for: Uniradio Informs – 22 February 2021, 06:28 pm
– More than $ 83M will be available starting next month to help pay for rents and utilities
SAN DIEGO.– A new program that will help low-income and financially hardship residents of the City of San Diego (City) pay their back and unpaid rent (rent) and utilities received Council approval today and is scheduled to launch next month in collaboration between the City and the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), the San Diego Housing Commission, with federal and state grant funding.
“The San Diego Housing Commission heeded my call to distribute more than $ 80 million in federal funds to distressed renters and homeowners as soon as possible. Thank you for creating the Housing Stability Assistance Program so quickly. With the approval of the Council today, we can move forward and help tenants with their rent due and back utility payments with some peace of mind during this incredibly challenging and stressful time, ”said Mayor Todd Gloria.
The City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program includes more than $ 83 million to help qualifying households with rent and utility payments.
“Housing affordability and stability provide critical economic security for our communities of concern. We need both of them to fully recover from the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic, ”said Council Member Monica Montgomery Steppe, Councilor for Council District 4. “When basic housing needs are met, it gives families hope, dignity and a strong foundation on which to rebuild.”
“This program is sorely needed for many families, and it is urgent that we distribute the funds as quickly as possible to the San Diegans who need it so badly. Communities within my district, such as Logan Heights and San Ysidro, have been some of the hardest hit, and Logan Heights still has unemployment rates above 17 percent. This funding will ensure that residents have some security and know they are not going to lose the roof over their head as we continue to fight this pandemic, ”said Council Member Vivian Moreno, Councilor for District 8, who is a member of the Housing Committee and Council Land Use.
SDHC will administer the program on behalf of the City.
“This is an essential program to help alleviate the financial burden and uncertainty that many families experience because they are unable to pay full rent or utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said SDHC President and CEO, Richard C. Gentry. “The San Diego Housing Commission thanks Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council for their leadership in funding and developing this program.”
To be eligible for assistance through the City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, households must meet the following criteria:
· The tenant has an address in the City of San Diego.
· The household has the obligation to pay the rent.
· The household does not currently receive any rental subsidies.
· At least one household member has a reduction in income or other financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
The household has experienced or is at risk of homelessness or housing instability
The program will help low-income households (up to 80 percent of AMI, or $ 92,400 per year for a family of four), pay back and unpaid rent and utilities. Under state requirements, the program would give priority to households with incomes below 50 percent of AMI ($ 57,650 per year for a family of four) or who have been unemployed for 90 days. Arrears in rent should be prioritized before paying future rent. If funds are available, the program can help with the next rental.
California State Senate Bill (SB) 91 allows landlords to receive 80 percent of their tenants’ arrears during the period from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, if they agree to waive the 20 remaining percent. Landlords can also receive 25 percent of the next rent during the months of April through June 2021, depending on the availability of funds. If a landlord rejects this provision, the program can pay 25 percent of the tenants’ arrears and up to 25 percent of the tenant’s next monthly rent during the three months from April to June 2021.
In addition to rent payment assistance, the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program will include assistance to pay for past due and unpaid utilities such as electricity, gas, water and sewer, garbage disposal, and energy costs, like fuel oil. Telephone, cable, and Internet services are not eligible for utility assistance, and landlord-paid utilities are considered rent.
Additionally, the San Diego City Council previously authorized the allocation of $ 5,000,000 in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Block Grant funds to Community Development (CDBG) awarded to the City of San Diego to provide rental assistance and pay expenses necessary to administer the program. Today’s Council action authorized the use of those funds through the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program.
SB 91 also imposed a temporary ban on evictions across the state, including San Diego. City residents cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent related to COVID-19 at least until June 30, 2021. This includes unpaid rent that is due between March 1, 2020 and March 30, June 2021.