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Millions In COVID-19 Relief Proposed For San Diego First Responders, Military Families

Supervisor Jim Desmond announcing his $40 million dollars proposal to a first responders and military family grant program at the Veterans Association of North County on May 25, 2021.
Supervisor Jim Desmond's Office
Supervisor Jim Desmond announcing his $40 million dollars proposal to a first responders and military family grant program at the Veterans Association of North County on May 25, 2021.

The federal government has allocated over $300 million in COVID-19 relief funds to San Diego County through the American Rescue Plan. San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond wants to allocate $40 million of those funds to a grant program for first responders and military families.

He announced the plan at a Tuesday morning news conference.

Millions In COVID-19 Relief Proposed For San Diego First Responders, Military Families
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

Desmond’s proposal would provide up to $6,000 or three months of back rent or back mortgage payments to first responder and military households.

Like many San Diegans, many military and first responder families have lost their jobs or have had to miss work to help take care of their families.

Video: Covid Relief

“My children’s schools were immediately shut down, our businesses reduced their hours, workers were sent home and the shelves in the grocery store were empty,” veteran Rena Rhine said of her family's experience.

Rhine had to take care of her five children alone when her husband received orders to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Roosevelt.

“I helped my family and my children adjust to this new life of social distancing and distance learning,” she said.

Desmond said first responders are owed a bit of gratitude.

“They’re willing to put their lives on the line for us and they’re the ones that when a fire is burning, they don’t run away from it, they run to it," he said. "And so when we had this COVID experience, they’re the ones that ran out ahead to make it all safe for the rest of us.”

Both Desmond and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher are military veterans and understand what military families go through.

“They’re near and dear to our hearts, and we understand the hardships that those families face and the fact that they have to pick up and move as often as they do," Desmond said. "And then when they do, San Diego is not a cheap place to live.”

Under Desmond’s proposal, funds would be paid to the landlord or mortgage lender in the form of a grant by the county.

The proposal goes to the Board of Supervisors for a vote on June 8.