San Diego leaders unveil tenant protection ordinance to combat homelessness
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera Tuesday released a draft of an ordinance to provide protections to renters from eviction as long as they continue to pay rent and comply with their lease.
The leaders said the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance to Prevent Displacement and Homelessness is a step toward addressing the twin housing and homelessness crises the city faces.
"San Diegans who are paying their rent and abiding by their lease should not live in fear of eviction," Elo-Rivera said. "Sadly, too often, San Diego renters are being evicted despite following the rules. These evictions cause massive financial and emotional distress to families and can lead to displacement and put people at risk of homelessness. This ordinance provides the protections that San Diego renters need and deserve."
The ordinance took input from tenants rights advocates and the Southern California Rental Housing Association and will bring the city's laws up to those set by Assembly Bill 1482 — in some cases surpassing it, the mayor and council president said.
"This ordinance will help address the reality that we have people becoming newly homeless faster than we can get people housed," Gloria said. "I'm extremely grateful to have had the active participation and input in crafting this framework by rental housing industry stakeholders to ensure it's feasible and will meet the objective of making housing more secure for thousands of San Diegans at risk of becoming homeless."
The draft ordinance — which will be heard at the April 25 City Council meeting — would apply protections from day one of a lease with exemptions for short-term leases, offer financial assistance when a tenant's lease is terminated through no fault of their own and have accountability measures to punish those violating tenant protections.
In March 2023, 832 people were housed while 1,260 people entered homelessness for the first time, officials said. For more than a year in San Diego, the number of people becoming homeless has outpaced those finding homes.
"This report shows our region has reached a sobering milestone: March 2023 marks one year since we've had a month where more people were housed than experienced homelessness for the first time," Regional Task Force on Homelessness CEO Tamera Kohler said when the task force's monthly report came out Monday. "Even as we continue to house people every day, with March seeing our highest housing numbers in seven months, it's clear that we are not keeping up with the influx of new people entering homelessness.
"We need to do much more to meet the need and fit the scope and scale of our response to fight homelessness in our community," she added.
City leaders are proposing new rights for San Diego renters and making it harder for landlords to evict. Then, the federal government is providing funding for programs and nonprofits to tackle housing insecurity and homelessness. Plus, the California Wolf Center in Julian is helping the Mexican Gray Wolf population rebound.