San Diego to give cash to seniors, others to help with rent
Up to $500 a month in rental relief could soon be available for San Diegans at risk of homelessness.
The San Diego City Council voted Monday to include the Housing Stability Fund in the city’s $5 billion fiscal year 2023 budget.
The pilot project has enough money to cover 300 households for the next two years and is slated to help seniors, those with disabilities, families with kids and transitional youth, regardless of immigration status.
“We cannot solve our homelessness crisis without preventing people from falling into homelessness,” said San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera last week. “If we don’t take the actions necessary to prevent homelessness we’re going to lose this fight and I’m not okay with that.”
A recent needs assessment by the nonprofit Serving Seniors found the majority of seniors experiencing homelessness are on the streets because they can't afford housing. Serving Seniors CEO Paul Downey said an extra $500 a month could make all the difference, especially for seniors on fixed-incomes.
“They are struggling with inflation, now over 8%, so they are being hit hard,” Downey said. “And when you’re on a fixed-income and your rent goes up, groceries keep going up and expenses for everything else, that puts them closer to homelessness.”
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is looking at a similar rental subsidy proposal for seniors. An update on that program is scheduled for August. Downey said keeping people from losing their homes also saves taxpayer money.
“Investing a few thousand dollars a year in somebody to prevent the homelessness is a lot cheaper than we’re spending now,” he said.
Long-term, Downey said more affordable housing is needed.
“The arithmetic just doesn’t work with their income and rents in San Diego without that kind of a subsidy,” Downey said “The rental subsidy we’re talking about now helps in the short-term, but it’s really not a long term solution.”
The Housing Stability Fund is projected to cost $3.6 million over the next two years. The San Diego Housing Commission will oversee it.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said on Twitter he looks forward to signing the budget into law later this week. The rental subsidy project was not initially included in his proposed budget. Gloria could veto it, but the council does have the authority to override it.