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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Application period opens for San Diego Housing Stability Assistance Program

"This financial assistance will be an enormous help in getting San Diego renters through this incredibly difficult time," Mayor Todd Gloria said.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego opened applications for the Housing Stability Assistance Program Monday, making more than $83 million available to help the city's low-income residents pay past-due rent, utilities and internet service.

"As more San Diegans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, we're getting closer to putting this pandemic behind us, but the financial devastation it has caused for our residents will linger until our economy has fully recovered," Mayor Todd Gloria said. "This financial assistance will be an enormous help in getting San Diego renters through this incredibly difficult time."

Qualifying households may apply for the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program here. Applications are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The first payments are expected to be disbursed 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, who represents District 8 and serves on the Land Use and Housing Committee. "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."

The program is administered by the San Diego Housing Commission.

"This program will give qualifying families certainty that their past- due rent and utility bills will be paid and the stability of knowing they will not lose their rental home because of the financial effects of this pandemic," SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said.

To be eligible for assistance through the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, households must meet the following criteria:

-- A San Diego address;

-- Household income at or below 80% of San Diego's Area Median Income - - 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

-- Experience or at-risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

The Chicano Federation is one of 10 community-based organizations contracting with the housing commission to help applicants with their applications, including households that do not have internet access.

"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 Chicano Federation CEO Nancy Maldonado. "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."

Applications may be submitted either by a tenant or by a landlord, community-based organization or 211 San Diego on behalf of a tenant.

Past-due rent will be prioritized. If funds remain available, the program can help with upcoming rent. The COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program also will include help to pay for past-due, unpaid utilities, including electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Help with past-due internet service charges also is available.

Under California's temporary eviction ban, city residents cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 at least until June 30. The San Diego City Council also has approved a temporary ban on evictions related to COVID-19, which will go into effect on July 1, 2021 -- unless the state further extends its eviction ban-- and will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the city's COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration.