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Rental Relief Not Working For All

 June 24, 2021 at 4:30 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Kinsee Morlan, in for Annica Colbert….it is Thursday, June 24. >>>> RENTAL RELIEF PROGRAMS ARE MEANT TO PREVENT A TSUNAMI OF EVICTIONS. BUT THE MONEY ISN'T always REACHING THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST. That story soon, but first... let’s do the local headlines…. ###### So...IF YOU WANT TO GIVE TESTIMONY AT A GOVERNMENT or school board MEETING, YOU OFTEN HAVE TO WAIT FOR HOURS…. BUT lots of PEOPLE JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME for that. REVEREND SHANE HARRIS, WHO HEADS UP THE PEOPLE’S ASSOCIATION OF JUSTICE ADVOCATES HAS AN IDEA HE CALLS “BOOST DEMOCRACY.” He’s asking elected officials to “ADOPT A TEXT MESSAGE NOTIFICATION that will send a TEXT MESSAGE to interested parties WHEN THEIR AGENDA ITEM COMES UP. HARRIS HAS ASKED THE SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL, THE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, THE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ADOPT THE SYSTEM. SO FAR, ONLY SAN DIEGO UNIFIED HAS SAID YES. ######## So yeah..the world is opening back up… But….You may have trouble making a reservation at your favorite restaurant. Because California restaurant owners say there's a labor shortage ... not enough cooks, servers and staff to do the job. Restaurant owners and industry insiders blame several factors for the shortage….like extended federal jobless benefits that have allowed workers to stay home. Other workers moved out of state during the pandemic. Employment numbers show restaurants and hotels have been adding the most jobs of any sector - but the industry remains about 450-thousand jobs below its pre-pandemic level. ######### And The San Diego Association of Governments is inviting you, yes you, to be a part of the change you want to see in our region.. SANDAG is holding a virtual open house and they’re seeking public input on the future of transportation across the county. The open house is this evening...Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m. and it’ll focus on proposed improvements in East County. You can join the virtual meeting to give your feedback at sd-forward dot com. ######### From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.MIDROLL 1 San Diego County’s eviction moratorium will likely end this fall. So...Will when it does end...will we see massive waves of people forced out of their homes? There is a rental relief program. It’s meant to prevent that from happening… But KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser found that the program? Iiiiiit’s not always working. RENTERS MIKE5021_01 at 0:31 “How old are you? I’m two years old.” Ramon Toscano is a day laborer and father of 5 kids...soon to be 6. Together with his wife and mother-in-law the family lives in a two bedroom apartment in Vista. Ramon Toscano Vista Resident Speaker 2 [00:02:56]Este pos empezó la pandemia en marzo y nosotros tratamos de pedir prestado o los ahorritos tratamos de pagar. Pero ya se nos hizo más duro ya como en noviembre del año pasado, ya fue cuando se nos empezó a juntar la [17.3s] Translation: This began, well with the pandemic in March and we tried to ask for loans and used savings to pay the rent. But then it became harder for us. Translation on 1021.wav When the pandemic hit, work dried up. They soon fell behind on rent. SOT [00:03:15] O comíamos nosotros o pagado la renta. O sea, es una decisión que pues dura no? [19.8s] Translation: “We could eat or we could pay rent. I mean, that’s a really hard decision, no? Broll of family The family applied to the county's rent relief program this past March… and waited. Finally, the money came last month. Apartment broll from 100JVCPQ in Google Drive folder Rent relief was meant to quell a tsunami of evictions. But across San Diego county, the money is only just beginning to trickle out. GRAPHIC Rental Assistance $55 million Disbursed $216 million Allocated Source: KPBS analysis of San Diego County, City Data The county has doled out only a quarter of the money it’s received as of last week. And a KPBS analysis of the funds reveals that wealthier ZIP codes disproportionately benefit. GRAPHIC Rental Assistance Received Little Italy/Gaslamp: $1,385,462 Logan Heights: $646,492 San Ysidro: $149,295 National City: $193,095 Source: KPBS analysis of San Diego County, City Data Residents of San Diego’s downtown high-rent district have gotten the most so far. Little Italy and the Gaslamp received almost 1.4 million dollars. While residents of some of the county’s three lowest income neighborhoods each received a fraction of Logan Heights, San Ysidro and National City. Map graphic from Phil And the ZIP codes where residents have had the best chance at receiving rent relief are some of the wealthiest in the county: Rancho Santa Fe, Poway, Little Italy and the Gaslamp. Apartment broll Part of the problem is getting the word out to renters for how to get help, says Azucena Valladolid (AH-soo-zen-ah VAH-la-doe-lid) at the San Diego Housing Commission. SOT 00:06:05:11 “The list is so long...00:06:24:24 we’ve done paid advertising on radio, BROLL OF AD HERE TV, and print ads, 00;06;42;00 advertising on bus routes from San Ysidro to downtown.” Apartment broll There are numerous issues with how the money is going out: a complicated system that is difficult for tenants to navigate, the fact that money can’t be given to people who’ve taken loans to pay their rent, and the requirement that landlords cover 20% of the rent money. SOT 00;19;34;27 “The eviction moratorium does not absolve the obligation to pay rent. 00;20;11;12 We have been advocating for significant changes to state guidelines...00;20;54;16 if those changes happen, and that’s a big if, then we could give out all the funds.” She says they’ve seen many tenants who, despite the eviction moratorium, prioritized paying rent over other bills. SOT 00:16:25:22 “They charged credit cards, took out loans. 00:16:36:00 Unfortunately we are not able to provide assistance for people who have taken out loans.” Back to broll of Toscano For Toscano, the Vista resident, he did get some money, but nothing to cover April, May and June--the months he waited after he applied. California is considering a plan to forgive all back rent for people like Toscano. He owes almost $5,000 and is worried. Speaker 2 [00:08:28]Tal vez este. Una estadística más de homeless, porque pues sino voy a tener pomme de renta. Qué va a pasar? Me voy a llevar a mi familia a la calle o al carro. Vivirnos, o sea. Y eso es por algo que nosotros no pedimos. Nosotros no pedimos que hubiera una pandemia en otros. Porque antes de esto la renta se pagaba de una forma or otra. [26.5s] Translation: “Maybe, one more homeless statistic because if I don’t have enough money for my rent… what’s going to happen? I am going to take my family onto the street or in the car to live. Toscano says this is all because of something his family didn’t ask for: the pandemic. Before the pandemic hit, he says he always found a way to pay the rent.... one way or the other. And that story from KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Trageser. KPBS race and equity reporter Cristina Kim also helped out with the story. *** The Coronado Unified School District took decisive action on Tuesday after tortillas were thrown at Escondido athletes following a championship game over the weekend. KPBS Race and Equity Reporter Cristina Kim has more on what’s next and how the community is responding. CORONADOFOLO 1 Aftering listening to community testimony, the Coronado Unified School District governing Board unanimously voted to terminate JD Laaperi as head coach of Coronado High Schools’ Basketball team. "In a vote of 5 to 0 was to release our head coach." This decision comes on the heels of a racist incident that took place Saturday during a basketball game between Coronado High and Escondido’s Orange Glen High school. Nedy Velazquez, an Orange Glen alumni and former cheerleader is pleased with Coronado’s decision, but wants to see more happen. I think this is a great initial first step. I mean, the kids deserve justice. We're working at the bare minimum, right? Escondido Union Unifed School District’s Board is holding a special meeting Thursday to denounce racism and explore equitable solutions. *** Coming up… A Bill To Address Pandemic-Related Learning Loss by California students is Awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s Signature… We’ll have that story… After a super short break. MIDROLL 2 The push is on for a California assembly bill to be signed into law that addresses learning loss suffered by students during the pandemic. It’s called AB 1 0 4...and it’s sponsored by San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. The bill has passed the legislature and is now awaiting governor Gavin Newsom’s signature. Some of the proposed law’s main provisions allow parents to request that their child be allowed to repeat a grade and provide students with credit recovery options if last year had a bad effect on their grades. But...schools will need some time to adjust to those new options and...the clock is ticking before next semester begins. San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez sat down with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh to discuss the bill. MIDDAY ED BILL what have you learned about how much educational loss was suffered by California students during the pandemic? Speaker 2: 00:48 I don't think we know the extent yet. I have learned that there are kids who missed months and their kids who missed the entire year. So, um, we know bad internet connections, people having to work take care of younger siblings. I mean, the number of reasons kids have missed so much, um, school vary from family to family and some kids just couldn't deal with online education. Um, we knew that going into the pandemic, that it's not a good way to educate, especially young children. So what we found is every family's in a different position. Every kid is, um, suffering in different ways and we've got to have the flexibility to meet them where they are and to provide unique choices for those children and those parents to kind of deal with what happened last year Speaker 1: 01:40 And what groups of students were most effected. Do you think? Speaker 2: 01:43 Well, I know in San Diego that, um, there are students in, in my district, which is of course the working class communities in south San Diego and Chula Vista national city, um, had unique problems, right? They had unique issues. We, we, um, had kids whose families were most effected by COVID, um, health wise kids who lost parents and grandparents. Um, we had kids who, uh, whose parents were essential workers. And so, um, they were watching younger children as well at home, trying to do their schoolwork and be caretakers at the same time. Um, we have bad internet connections and some of our neighborhoods still, we don't have universal broadband. And so, um, I think those kids in particular from working class families, um, Latino kids in particular were, were most effected. Now, if Speaker 1: 02:32 Governor Newsome signs AB 1 0 4, what are some of the things it would do? So Speaker 2: 02:38 AB 1 0 4 does three things. Primarily one, it allows parents the opportunity to seek, um, a redo of the grade for their child. So that's not our preferred policy position in California when it comes to education, we believe in social promotion for a variety of reasons. So that was probably the most controversial. Um, but we know that some kids missed the year. What do you do with the child who missed the entire year, um, or got nothing out of school this year? Um, so it allows parents that opportunity to talk to the administrator and teacher about their child redoing the school year and that's in any grade. It also allows, um, our seniors who maybe just couldn't, couldn't finish up in time. Um, our juniors and seniors, who, who lost some credits to recover those in high school, we know that a high school diploma is much more valuable than a GED, and we want those kids to have the opportunity to finish up their schooling, um, this coming year. Speaker 2: 03:35 And so that they can actually graduate with a high school diploma. There are kids who, who dropped out of school to join the workforce are kids who just couldn't handle the online education. And we know it's valuable to allow them that opportunity to have a fifth year senior, basically. And then the final thing it does, this is for, I think the majority of kids primarily in high school are only in high school who may have been really good students, right? They might've had, um, an a and B average headed to college, and then they just couldn't do one of their subjects or two of their subjects online. And we we've seen this. I think you can talk to just about anyone who said, I had a student, um, who couldn't figure out how to do Spanish online. And she got a C well, if you get a C um, it really hurts your chances of actually getting into a UC or CSU. And so we want them to be able to convert, um, you know, one or two, not perfect seller grades to pass no pass so that their grade point average isn't hurt as a result. So if you pass a grade and that one grade is going to upset your entire transcript, let's give them that opportunity. Speaker 1: 04:38 Now there's an urgency to the signing of this bill because schools have deadlines for the coming semester. Tell us about that. Speaker 2: 04:46 Absolutely. I was thinking about this this morning, my, um, my little ones, this is their last day of school today. So, you know, um, when kids are in school is the best time to communicate with parents that they have these options. Um, my, my 18 year old is graduating on Friday and most of the school districts in south San Diego in Chula Vista, Sweetwater districts, they're coming back in July, already. They have year round. And so they start at the end of July. So we really need, um, there was an urgency on this. We got it through as quickly as we could given that it was semi controversial. Um, but it ended up getting through the assembly and Senate with, uh, no, no votes. In other words, it was completely bi-partisan. It was unanimous. That's unusual, especially for, for a bill that started with a lot of opposition. Um, and now we're just hopeful that the governor, um, you know, he has 12 days as of two days ago to sign it. So we have, I think July 3rd is the deadline, but we, we hope he realizes, you know, every day is, is a day that the schools need to implement this. Have you gotten any indication that he will Speaker 3: 05:49 Sign the bill? Speaker 2: 05:51 I haven't. Um, I'm I am, um, you know, every asking his staff, uh, if there there's more questions or answers they need, we've been working on this for so long. Um, you know, we're, we're still waiting. Okay. And that was San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez talking with Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh. Find and follow Midday Edition wherever you listen to podcasts. And that, my friend, is the show. Anica is back Friday. Thanks so, so much for lending us your ears.

A rental relief program meant to prevent massive evictions is not working as it should, as KPBS investigative reporter Claire Trageser found. Plus: The push is on for a California Assembly bill that addresses learning loss suffered by students during the pandemic and more local news you need. San Diego News Now is KPBS' daily news podcast powered, in part, by listeners like you. Join the KPBS family today by becoming a member online at