County Ready To Distribute Over $100 Million In COVID-19 Rental Assistance
Speaker 1: 00:00 Many people across San Diego County are experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic. Now there's money available to help with rent and utilities through the county's emergency rental assistance program. The need is great, especially in hard hit communities. Joining me today is Nancy Maldonado, CEO of the Chicano Federation, which is helping to administer the program. Nancy welcome. Speaker 2: 00:24 Thank you. Thank you for having me. Speaker 1: 00:26 $100 million is available to renters across San Diego County, who is eligible for this assistance. Speaker 2: 00:33 So, and as far as I know, it's anyone that owes, um, back rent or maybe has outstanding utility bills, um, they're eligible for, for this assistance and it comes in different amounts. And obviously, um, the median income, the area meeting income plays, plays a role in who is eligible to receive these funds. Speaker 1: 00:53 Landlords can also apply. Are you seeing that happen at all? Speaker 2: 00:57 Yes, this is, this is a huge, um, advantage for landlords that have tenants who owe back rent. Um, if the, if the landlord is willing to forgive some of that rent the rent qualified for up to 80% of the backlog in rent. So it's a great program that that can really help renters and landlords during this time Speaker 1: 01:19 In terms of eligibility, households must earn no more than 80% of the area, median income to qualify. For example, a single person household can earn up to $64,700 and a four person household can earn up to $92,400 and must be either at risk of homelessness or facing housing instability, how much money could an individual or family receive. Speaker 2: 01:45 So I think it depends on how much is owed, right? So it's up to 80% of the backlog and rent. So depending on how much rent that particular renter owes, um, I think it varies Speaker 1: 01:56 How great is the need for rental assistance in the communities that you serve? Speaker 2: 02:01 There's, there's a huge need for rental assistance. I can share with you that already our phone, um, has been ringing off the hook with people wanting assistance in filling out this application. Um, we also have people coming to our office, um, wanting assistance to, to help them fill out the application. Um, and you know, the, the County one is just one of the, um, the rental assistance programs. There's also one coming through the city one through Chulavista. So we're getting calls for those as well, even though they're not yet, uh, they're not yet open and accepting an application. So given that, um, you know, we can tell that there's, there's a great need for rental and utility assistance. So this is a great thing that the County of San Diego is doing Speaker 1: 02:44 Paint the picture for me. What are some of the stories that the Chicano Federation is hearing from people about how COVID has affected their ability to make ends meet? Speaker 2: 02:54 Gosh, you know, the, the there's so many different stories. I think one of the things that we're hearing a lot, um, is that, um, families have had to move in with relatives or with friends, and that there's multiple people, multiple families living in one household now because they haven't been able to pay their rent or their mortgage. Um, so for, for the families that we serve, we're seeing that a lot or, and they've had to move out of the area too. Maybe they don't have friends or relatives that live close by, and now they're having to commute to work. So this has had, is this had an impact at multiple levels, but in terms of housing, um, you know, definitely what we're seeing is a lot of families and relatives and friends living together, unfortunately. Speaker 1: 03:38 And how is the Chicano Federation exactly helping families receive the assistance available? Speaker 2: 03:44 So what we do is we help families fill out the application. Um, for a lot of, uh, people navigating the application can be a little bit confusing, particularly if they don't speak English. Um, the other part that is sometimes hard to navigate is that the landlords do have to participate, um, for this one, if they want to get the 80%. Um, so navigating that is sometimes challenging for people, um, in getting landlords to, to participate. They don't always want to participate. Um, so sometimes we have to pay, we play kind of the intermediary to, um, to facilitate, you know, getting that conversation going and, and asking the landlords to, to participate in this program. Um, and that's really the role that we're playing is, is more just assistance, um, in helping families, uh, complete the application. Speaker 1: 04:36 And, you know, the housing situation has always been fragile for so many people. Um, but much work has to be done to ensure that this ongoing health crisis doesn't turn into a housing crisis as well. How would you describe the current state of housing within the community? Speaker 2: 04:52 So San Diego County has had an affordable housing crisis for, for a long time. And one of the things that we we've been tracking is the cost of, of homes and, and how the, the increased rate. I mean, over the past year, the median income of a home has risen almost 10%. So I think that combined with the fact that that people are not just struggling to pay their rent, they're also having a hard time paying their mortgage. And as of right now, there hasn't been any mortgage assistance that has come through. So that's a lot of what we're getting to is, is questions about do people, is there support for mortgage assistance and for the, where the families and the people who can't pay their mortgage. So I think that that is something that we need to start thinking about if we don't want to see, um, an even bigger housing crisis here in the County Speaker 1: 05:43 And, uh, with, with the lack of mortgage assistance, uh, that can certainly elevate things. Also these, you know, rental assistance programs, they do provide a much needed stimulus for families in need, but with no end to COVID insight, what you think needs to be done to protect families from housing and security for the remainder of this crisis. Speaker 2: 06:02 Well, I think that the programs like this obviously are helpful. I think in addition to that, a lot of seniors are just in need of flexible financial assistance. You know, there's other bills that haven't been accounted for, like medical bills or, you know, families come to us with a variety of different needs. And when these programs are very specific to rent and utilities, while that's helpful, there's also, there's also other needs that families have. And I think that flexible financial assistance for families would be really helpful during this time, um, and helping families navigate this pandemic and really address the needs that they have that we might not be seeing. Speaker 1: 06:42 I've been speaking with Nancy Maldinado CEO of the Chicano Federation. Nancy, thank you for joining us. Speaker 2: 06:49 Thank you.