By Sandra G. Leon
Applications are now being accepted for a new City program to help provide funding support to low-income residents that need help with past-due rent, utility, and Internet connectivity payments due to hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Housing Stability Assistance Program, administered by the San Diego Housing Commission, will provide up to $83 million in funding support beginning in April.
“The economic and social disruption caused by this pandemic has been devastating, and communities within my district — like Logan Heights and San Ysidro — have been some of the hardest hit,” said Councilwoman Vivian Moreno. “Outreach to these disadvantaged communities is essential to ensure that the populations hardest hit by this pandemic are getting enrolled in the program and receive these critically needed funds.”
Eligibility requirements include a San Diego address, household income at or below 80% of San Diego’s Area Median Income (AMI) which is currently $92,400 per year for a family of four, an obligation to pay rent, not currently receiving any rental subsidies (households that receive rental subsidies can only apply for help with their past-due utilities), at least one member of the household demonstrating a reduction of income or other financial hardship due to COVID-19, and experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
Funding availability will be prioritized past-due rent payments, and, if funds remain available, approve funding of upcoming rent payments. The program also will include assistance in paying late utility bills, including electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal, Internet connectivity, and energy costs such as fuel oil.
Applications may be submitted either by a tenant or by a landlord, community-based organization, or 211 San Diego on behalf of a tenant.
Ten community-based organizations have contracted with the Housing Commission to help applicants with their applications, including the Chicano Federation of San Diego County.
“This rental assistance will go a long way in relieving the economic pressures that many in our community are facing as a result of this pandemic,” said Nancy Maldonado, CEO of the Chicano Federation. “As we continue to look forward towards recovery, we need to put equity at the forefront and find permanent solutions to the systematic failures that put our communities at higher risk.”
The program is in addition to the State’s existing temporary eviction ban that protects City residents from evicted for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 until June 30. The City of San Diego also a temporary ban on evictions related to COVID-19 which will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the city’s COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration.