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Local Leaders Encourage San Diegans To Apply For COVID-19 Rent Relief Program

A for rent sign is pictured out front of a house in San Carlos in this undate...

Photo by KPBS Staff

Above: A for rent sign is pictured out front of a house in San Carlos in this undated photo.

Mayor Todd Gloria Monday urged workers affected by the pandemic to apply for rent relief through San Diego's COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program.

The application period for the program opened last week, making more than $83 million available to help the city's low-income residents pay past-due rent, utilities and internet service.

"For the Housing Stability Assistance Program to reach the San Diegans who need it most, it's critical that we spread the word," Gloria said. "We can provide working families the relief they need to recover from the pandemic, and we want them to know help can come if they apply today."

Gloria was joined at a news conference with local leaders Monday to encourage residents to apply.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 In San Diego County

Reported by Andrew Bowen

"A major goal of the American Rescue Plan Act is to help those most in need, including people who struggle to pay rent due to reduced wages or lost jobs," said Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. "While we still face uncertainty, people trying their best should not face eviction during a public health crisis. We rely on our local officials to help make the goals of our federal resources a reality."

San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo represents neighborhoods including Linda Vista, where Monday's news conference occurred at the Bayside Community Center. The center is a nonprofit, neighborhood-based organization combining social services, educational opportunities and advocacy efforts in one location to encourage and empower community members.

"I was honored to make the motion at the City Council to create this crucial Housing Stability Assistance program that will allow struggling San Diegans to make rent and utility payments and mom-and-pop property owners to get the rent checks they depend on," Campillo said. "I urge all workers affected by economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of this valuable lifeline."

The San Diego Housing Commission worked with the mayor to develop the assistance program.

Unite HERE Local 30 represents the workers in the hotel and hospitality industry hardest hit by the financial impact of COVID-19 in San Diego.

"Many in our communities were already struggling with the cost of living when our tourism industry shut down, placing thousands of San Diegans out of work with little or no warning," said Brigette Browning, president of UNITE HERE Local 30. "The Housing Stability Assistance Program is a lifeline in providing some stability while workers attempt to navigate their economic recovery."

Qualifying households may apply for the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program at covidassistance.sdhc.org. Applications are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

To be eligible for assistance through the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, households must meet the following criteria:

— A San Diego address;

— Household income at or below 80% of San Diego's Area Median Income - - currently $92,400 per year for a family of four;

— An obligation to pay rent;

— Not currently receiving any rental subsidies (households that receive rental subsidies can only apply for help with their past-due utilities);

— At least one member of the household demonstrating a reduction of income or other financial hardship due to COVID-19; and

— Experience or at-risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Applications may be submitted either by a tenant or by a landlord, community-based organization or 211 San Diego on behalf of a tenant.

Past-due rent will be prioritized. If funds remain available, the program can help with upcoming rent. The COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program will include help to pay for past-due, unpaid utilities, including electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Help with past-due internet service charges also is available.

Under California's temporary eviction ban, city residents cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 at least until June 30. The San Diego City Council also has approved a temporary ban on evictions related to COVID-19, which will go into effect on July 1, 2021 — unless the state further extends its eviction ban— and will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the city's COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration.

SDHC, which administers the program, anticipates beginning to disburse payments in April.

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