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Gloria Earmarks $42 Million For Renters; No-Eviction Extension On Table

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: A "for rent" sign is pictured in San Diego, Sept. 17, 2020.

San Diego will make more than $42 million in federal emergency rental assistance available to city residents. Plus, the VA and veterans groups are aware of extremism in their ranks but there are very few resources out there to pull them back from the brink. Then, this weekend in San Diego arts: a new Digital WOW production, Amel Janae’s solo exhibition, a group show at Thumbprint, and Icelandic contemporary music paired with Ana de Alvear’s art.

Speaker 1: 00:00 A new round of rent relief for the city of San Diego from the federal government

Speaker 2: 00:05 San Diego's share of that money came out to about $42 million,

Speaker 1: 00:10 Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. There's new concern about extreme ism in the ranks of the nation's veterans.

Speaker 3: 00:29 We're way behind the eight ball. I mean, just have not dealt with this problem in a meaningful way. We don't have a national strategy and state and local resources aren't there.

Speaker 1: 00:40 And new works from art to theater to music are highlighted in our weekend preview that's ahead on midday edition.

Speaker 1: 01:00 The city of San Diego is extending additional rent relief to residents using $42 million from the federal government. But that windfall is just about the only bit of good financial news the city has right now. In recent months, the city has seen its projected shortfall increase from 86 million to more than $150 million. Mayor Todd Gloria has begun the process of budget. Cutting, asking departments to find savings by freezing positions and halting proposed construction, but even with hard internal cuts, San Diego officials say next year's budget could see reductions in service if help isn't forthcoming from the federal government. Joining me is KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, and Andrew. Welcome.

Speaker 2: 01:45 Hi Maureen. Thank you. Let's start

Speaker 1: 01:47 With this new round of rent relief. Is this an extension of a program the city started last summer?

Speaker 2: 01:53 Not exactly. So last summer you'll recall the council, the city council approved $15 million in assistance for low income renters that were hurt by the pandemic. And this came from, uh, the pool of money that city got directly, uh, under the cares act. Then city council member, Chris ward had proposed about four times the amount. Um, but the mayor at the time, Kevin Faulconer balked at that figure and he ended up, um, offering and the city council approved that $15 million. So that helped a lot of people. Um, but a lot of more people didn't get the help that they needed. And so this, this new money comes from the bill. As you mentioned that, uh, Congress passed in December the same one that gave folks those $600 checks. Unlike the cares act, the bill passed in December, did not have any direct aid for state or local governments, but it did earmark $25 billion for rental assistance. And San Diego's share of that money came out to about $42 million. So a mayor Gloria is certainly glad for that money. In this case, the city is passing through. It's a pass through agency for that money from the federal government

Speaker 1: 03:03 And who's eligible for this rent relief aid.

Speaker 2: 03:07 The criteria set by Congress is that, uh, the household has to be a low income and that's defined as 80% of the area, median income in San Diego County. That's a little over $92,000 for a family of four. Uh, they also have to be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and have to have a household member that's either unemployed or experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic. The city is however, do have some leeway in terms of who they want to prioritize. They could maybe set lower income thresholds, try and help folks even making even less money or, uh, you know, make, uh, offer larger, uh, grants than, uh, what were previously offered. So we'll have to probably wait until the city council takes up this item on Tuesday to get some of those more precise details about, um, eligibility.

Speaker 1: 03:59 And the mayor is also proposing, extending the eviction ban for renters and businesses. Can you tell us about

Speaker 2: 04:05 That? Yeah, it's kind of hard to keep track of all the different layers of eviction moratoriums that, that are, um, that have been passed since the pandemic started. So the city had one that it was approved pre early on that covered residential and commercial tenants, but that one expired in August. Um, shortly after that expiration, uh, governor Newsome signed a bill that then superseded the local eviction moratorium, but it only covered residential tenants, not businesses. Um, but then on top of both the state and the local eviction bands, uh, there was the CDCs eviction pan, um, that president Biden recently, uh, extended. So, uh, to some extent this local eviction ban is just kind of a backstop against, uh, you know, any changes to the state or federal measures, uh, banning evictions. Um, but it does actually go further in protecting businesses. So if you're a business that can't pay, uh, the rent, because, you know, you've been forced to shut down, um, those will, uh, will not be allowed to be evicted by their landlord.

Speaker 1: 05:09 And I guess the San Diego city council will be voting on that eviction moratorium extension, this coming Tuesday. That's right. Maureen Andrew, as the pandemic lingers on the city has had to revise its budget, shortfall projections. Why did the estimated shortfall nearly doubled?

Speaker 2: 05:26 Well, back in November, the city was estimating about $84 million in deficit for the coming fiscal year. That's the year that the budget year that starts on July 1st. Um, but just a few weeks after that, uh, the city department of finance revised it up to $124 million. That was because of an increase in pension payments. The city has to keep on funding. All of these pensions that were promised to city employees who have retired, uh, on top of that 124 million deficit, the city's independent budget analyst noted that, uh, this, the previous projections were too optimistic about the return of tourism. So the city could, would likely the IBA estimated the city would actually come up another $30 million short in hotel tax revenue. After that point, um, mayor Todd Gloria mentioned in his state of the city address that he was projecting a deficit in excess of $150 million. Um, but this number is still based on the data that we have from November and things are changing so fast with this pandemic in the economy. We probably won't get an updated forecast on the deficit until the proposed budget, uh, comes out from the mayor's office in mid April.

Speaker 1: 06:46 Now, right now, president Biden has proposed a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which includes help to struggling States and cities, our city leaders, San Diego, city leaders, counting on that plan.

Speaker 2: 07:01 Well, they're certainly hoping for it. Um, but I think they're preparing for the worst because of the cares act passed in the spring of last year, the city was able to run a pretty regular budget. They didn't use any of their general fund reserves. They didn't implement any major layoffs. Uh, but, and, and, you know, if, if Congress were to rubber stamp president Biden's proposal, the city could potentially get away with, um, doing the same thing that it did in the current fiscal year and, and running a regular, uh, pretty regular budget. Um, that almost definitely won't happen that rubber stamp. So the fate, it's interesting, really the fate of the city budget, things like police and fire, uh, libraries and rec centers tree-trimming and brush management road repair, all the things that the city is responsible for really depends on what Congress and the Biden administration can agree on.

Speaker 1: 07:55 We've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen, and Andrew. Thank you very much. My pleasure, Maureen, some of the people who participated in the siege of the Capitol were veterans while the VA and veterans groups are aware of extremism in their ranks. At the moment, there are very few resources out there to pull them back from the brink KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh has been following the story.

Speaker 2: 08:27 35 year old Ashley Babbitt was an air force veteran from San Diego. She was killed by police as she tried to push deeper into the Capitol on January six for social media was a mix of Q Anon, conspiracies and posts. Falsely claiming that the election was stolen in one video, the avidly pro-Trump Babbitt segwayed from immigration to California, politicians as she drove

Speaker 1: 08:50 So sick of these politicians in this state, I can't take any more. They're all worried about what Trump is doing. How about we worry

Speaker 3: 08:56 About what the hell you're doing?

Speaker 2: 08:57 The VA and major veterans groups have condemned the insurrection at the U S Capitol, but some groups worry that vets are being unfairly singled out. John router is the spokesman for the American Legion

Speaker 3: 09:09 Radicalization among certain fringe elements. We don't see it as more of a problem for veterans in America. In general,

Speaker 2: 09:17 The American Legion has a program to confront suicide among veterans. They even have Legion posts inside prisons to help rehabilitate veterans. They don't have similar programs to confronting extremism directly, even though days before the insurrection, the union Tribune uncovered a local post commander who boasted being a member of the far-right group. The proud boys, veterans groups are not alone. Pizzey me. Research is violent extremism at Chapman university.

Speaker 3: 09:45 We're way behind the April. I mean, we just have not dealt with this problem in a meaningful way. We don't have a national strategy and state and local resources aren't there.

Speaker 2: 09:56 He says the number of hate groups spike during the Obama admitted,

Speaker 3: 10:00 There was a major resurgence after Obama's election in Oh eight. And there was a number of different factors, not unlike what we see today that were helping propel that. And we did nothing. We did. We, in fact, we denied that it was a problem

Speaker 2: 10:12 Research into deradicalizing people who have taken up violent extremism centers around Islamic extremism, Simi said,

Speaker 3: 10:20 And as far as specific intervention programs designed specifically for veterans, um, it's just, it's not there yet.

Speaker 2: 10:28 Tony McAleer author of the cure for hate says vets have long been a target of extremist groups.

Speaker 3: 10:34 I can see how perhaps people get manipulated by their patriotism, you know, and, and duped into doing things that you know, when they take a step back. When I, you know, I can't believe I did that

Speaker 2: 10:46 McAleer, a former neo-Nazis and a Canadian vet councils, people trying to leave extremist groups. He says some veterans of recent Wars come back to sensitize to other cultures after being put into situations where they cannot always tell friend from foe,

Speaker 3: 11:01 You have to dehumanize other human beings, you know, to prepare people for violence. You have to dehumanize the target for first,

Speaker 2: 11:07 Nearly a decade ago. McAleer also helped found life after hate, which now has a federal grant to help those trying to leave violent extremist groups. Spokesman Dimitrios Collins's says the difference between now and a decade ago is that people are speaking more openly about the threat of domestic radical extremism.

Speaker 3: 11:26 People will, hopefully more people will get the help they need before they become radicalized to violence. Before they actually take that last and final step

Speaker 2: 11:39 In the wake of the seizure of the Capitol. And as awareness grows, there's a hope that veterans groups will be more openly involved themselves in deradicalization programs after all. These are the groups that veterans often turn to first for help.

Speaker 1: 11:54 Steve Walsh, KPBS news. This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh, spoken word poetry and great music at the inauguration this week have put art front and center in our thoughts for a few days. Now, luckily we have some recommendations on how you can surround yourself with culture this weekend in San Diego, there's word from a contemporary Icelandic composer, immersive visual art neighborhood, site-specific theatrical salons, and more journey me as KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dickson Evans with all the details and welcomed Julia.

Speaker 4: 12:39 Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: 12:41 Now, first up is tonight's pairing of music and art from San Diego museum of art and art of a LAN.

Speaker 4: 12:48 Yeah. So this is one of their SDMA plus offerings where the museum pairs with local performing arts organizations. So dancers, musicians, poets, you name it, and generally lets them pick a work of art on the museum's walls or from the permanent collection. And then they pair it with their performance during the pandemic. They've been these short videos and this one was actually filmed in the museum. So I'm looking forward to feeling like I'm back inside, sort of. And for this one, the art is contemporary Spanish artists on a day, all VR whose photo realistic drawings are really incredible and unsettling kind of plays into that uncanny Valley reflects, but they're absolutely beautiful, fine artworks. She was recently featured in the axon line lecture this fall with the museum of contemporary art, San Diego and SDMA, and then art of Ayllon at classical chamber performance group. They have picked work by contemporary Icelandic composer. Ana thermals did here, who is the composer in residence at the Iceland symphony, but she studied at UC San Diego. She's quite young and prolific and creates these beautiful pastoral pieces. The work they'll play spectra and it's for violin, Viola and cello. It's a lush and haunting piece and kind of greets its way through tension and sparseness. And to me it feels pretty remarkable that it's just three instruments and I'm excited to see how it plays with the visual art [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 14:42 Ellen musicians, performing spectra with Anna or bolster tier part of the SDMA plus identity performance. It streams on tonight at seven. Let's talk a little bit about the LA Jolla playhouses new offerings in their digital, without walls series. What can we find this weekend?

Speaker 4: 15:02 [inaudible] actually has a few new programs that are multi-phase with these plans for later phases of the project, kind of up in the air until we can gather again, one project that caught my eye is called taxa Landia. It's built as a site-specific play within a tour of a city. So Taxal Landia was developed by a Brooklyn based artists, Modesto, Flaco, Jimenez, and it's a way to delve into themes of gentrification and neighborhood and what it means to really belong to a place. And the first phase of this one is a series of virtual salons with local artists and they'll show us around their neighborhood. This is a theater project, but it sort of feels like it's just as much about photography and storytelling to burst up as actor and playwright, joy, Yvonne Jones, who will share the Carlsbad and Oceanside area with us on Saturday afternoon. And as an aside, Jones has new original work that will premiere in the old Globes powers, new voices festival as part of the San Diego black artists collective later that night. So you can make a whole day of it.

Speaker 1: 16:07 And the LA Jolla Playhouse is taxa Landia salon with joy, Yvonne Jones live streams Saturday at 1:00 PM and the old Globes and evening with the San Diego black artists collective event takes place at 7:00 PM. Both are free to the public and in the visual world, a mal Janae opens a new show at switch projects. Tell us about that.

Speaker 4: 16:31 Yeah. So ML Janae is an emerging San Diego artists and she's known for these paintings. She does on mirrors on the actual glass. It's kind of on the nose in terms of self-reflection that her work is hyper-focused on the human body zoomed in on like the corner of something or the length of a limb. But this next show called like, honey, it departs from her mirror farm. She'd been gathering textiles for awhile to work with. And the exhibition is these suspended, sheer cloths with the bodies printed on, and it's really immersive. You'll walk through and you can see through these bodies. So swish projects is open for private viewing appointments and they use an online reservation system to book a spot. And it's also right on El Cajon Boulevard. So if you're not quite ready to go inside and immerse yourself in it, you can take a peak from the sidewalk.

Speaker 1: 17:22 Good idea. A Mel Janae is like honey, open Saturday at swish projects in North park and thumbprint gallery has a group exhibition on the walls. Now what can we find in from ashes?

Speaker 4: 17:35 Yeah. So thumb print is a dependable spot to discover new artists because they're pretty regular group shows are always really interesting and well stacked and from ashes is their first of the year and the exhibitions focused on beginnings and restarts. I can relate to that. And this one features work from eight different artists. And just based on the closeups they've posted on social media, I'm pretty curious to see an oil Diptyque by Micah, Mariah, and there's some really lush work by Jessica Justice and then Palo Gaspar's portraiture as well. They're open for viewings on Saturday afternoons or by appointment and masks are required

Speaker 1: 18:13 From ashes is on view at thumbprint gallery in LA Jolla. Now through February 6th, for more arts events, you can check out the KPBS arts calendar or sign up for the weekly KPBS arts newsletter@kpbs.org slash arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. Thanks a lot, Julia.

Speaker 4: 18:36 Thank you, Maureen. Have a good weekend.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.