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Friday Night Event In City Heights Looks To Help Residents Tap Rental And Utility Aid Programs

An aerial view of apartments in City Heights. Dec. 1, 2020.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: An aerial view of apartments in City Heights. Dec. 1, 2020.

For much of the pandemic, local programs helping people pay their rent or utility bills were not enough to keep up with demand. Within days of opening, rental assistance programs ran out of money, as the pandemic dragged on.

That’s not the case anymore, as both federal aid and a booming state budget surplus has begun filtering down to local governments. Now, many advocates say what’s needed is outreach, to get to those communities that haven’t been able to get to the front of what was once a desperate line.

Reported by Max Rivlin-Nadler

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On Friday night, the Partnership for a Better San Diego, a coalition of local labor groups, along with SDG&E and the city of San Diego, will hold an outdoor event in City Heights meant to connect residents with these aid programs.

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

“Right now the rent funds and utility assistance relief are available, and people might not know it, but it’s there,” said Sandra Williams with the Partnership for a Better San Diego. “The challenge is people knowing how to apply. We’re here to bridge that gap.”

Sandra Williams says one of the main barriers between the community and aid is technology.

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“We’re there to help them create an email. Upload documents they need. They don’t have a scanner or camera phone. We’re here to do that for them,” she said.

The event will run from 5 p.m. through 730 p.m. tonight at 4265 Fairmount Ave in City Heights. Translation services will be available for several languages, as the coalition is trying to cast as large a net as possible, for a neighborhood still struggling through the pandemic.

Already at least 300 people are expected to show up. The coalition behind the event is already planning for future outreach efforts in other hard-hit parts of San Diego.

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