• Jacob Aere

Midnight Deadline Approaches For San Diego Rental Assistance Program


Above: A house is up for rent in Golden Hill, Aug. 7, 2020. PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Friday, Aug. 7 is the last day for San Diegans to apply for the city’s COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The deadline is 11:59 p.m.

11,000 applications have already been submitted and 10,000 more are in the process of being finalized. But only about 3,500 families will be selected by lottery to receive the financial help.


Azucena Valladolid of the San Diego Housing Commission says there are some priorities for the assistance.


“Families with children under the age of 18 and households that have at least one person with the age of 62 years or older will be prioritized," she said. "The remaining applications that meet eligibility will be then sorted and assigned a random number to identify the progress at which they will be selected for rental assistance.”


Eight community-based organizations are helping renters complete their applications. One of them is the Chicano Federation, whose Chief Strategy Officer is Roberto Alcantar.


“[Since] the day that it was announced, our phones have not stopped ringing, even today. It just shows the great need we have in San Diego for some kind of rent relief program,” Alcantar said.


RELATED: San Diego Approves Relief Fund For Renters Hurt By Pandemic


Back in June, the San Diego City Council approved $15.1 million in federal CARES ACT money to help low-income San Diegans experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. But the program is only designated for those living within the city limits of San Diego and not the surrounding towns.


“This is a huge need across the whole county,” Alcantar said. “It has been really difficult to let folks know that they don't qualify because they live outside of the City of San Diego.”


And the CARES ACT only applies to people in the country legally. So community based organizations like the Chicano Federation have been having to reject applications from families without eligible immigration status.


“A lot of undocumented families are unable to get help because this is federal money from the CARES ACT, so this money can not go towards families that are undocumented,” Alcantar said.


On the other hand, Valladolid said there are new initiatives from the City of San Diego to fundraise for those who are not selected for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.


“We have also been initiating and working with the city to fundraise and increase more funding that is available that can assist additional household members,” Valladolid said.


Yet the Chicano Federation has noted that some landlords are making it harder for tenants to receive help from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.


“There are landlords out there that we’ve learned about who are actually refusing to participate in the program or are refusing to accept the payment from the city,” said Alcantar.

“That’s unfortunate because we cannot force landlords to participate in this program.”


San Diego's eviction moratorium expires Sept. 30.


Tax-deductible donations to aid those struggling to pay rent can be made through the San Diego Housing Commission’s GoFundMe page.


For more information, call (619) 535-6921 or go to sdhc.org.