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San Diego mayor calls on landlords to rent units to homeless, receive incentives

According to the mayor, property owners struggling to find renters and pay mortgages amid the COVID-19 pandemic may be interested in an incentive program offered.
Credit: KFMB

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer called upon local landlords Tuesday to rent open units to San Diegans experiencing homelessness, including seniors and veterans. Mayor Faulconer was by San Diego Housing Commission President and CEO Richard C. Gentry at his daily briefing at which also included updates about the city and region's response to COVID-19. 

The city is asking landlords to sign up for the city's Landlord Engagement and Assistance Program (LEAP), which Mayor Faulconer said allows landlords "to get paid to do good, to help people." 

LEAP is born out of the Housing Our Heroes program, which started in 2016 and housed around 1,000 homeless veterans, according to Gentry.

Gentry said Housing Our Heroes was expanded to assist all homeless individuals and LEAP started in 2017, which has housed around 2,300 individuals and families since its inception.

According to Faulconer, property owners struggling to find renters and pay mortgages amid the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic may be interested in an incentive program being offered. 

Incentives for landlords who rent to San Diegans experiencing homelessness will include:

  • Extra payments: $500 for the first unit landlords rent to a homeless household and $250 for each additional unit
  • Up-front funding: Up to two times the contract rent in security deposits and an average of $100 in utility assistance per household
  • Peace of mind: A contingency fund to help landlords cover expenses, such as repairs that exceed security deposits
  • Staff support: Dedicated San Diego Housing Commission housing specialists to answer landlords’ questions

Through the current "Operation Shelter to Home" at the San Diego Convention Center, case managers are working to find permanent housing for homeless San Diegans staying there. 

"With more rental units, 'housing navigators' at the convention center will have more options to match individuals most ready for independent living to a home," a release from the mayor's office read in part. 

Gentry said the program offers "the ability not only to house some of the most vulnerable citizens who absolutely need the shelter, but also a program that will help the landlords, who may, in some cases, be experiencing some financial hardships of their own."

Landlords looking to fill units and be a partner in the program are encouraged to contact the San Diego Housing Commission's House First San Diego Program at (619) 578-7768 or HousingFirstSanDiego@sdhc.org. 

Click here for more information. 

During the mayor's briefing, he also touched on the re-opening of select San Diego city parks which began Tuesday. 

"The first day went very well," Faulconer said. "No major issues at all to report." 

The mayor said signs have been posted at parks to remind people they are for passive use only - walking, jogging - and not group gatherings or sports. 

Mayor Faulconer also confirmed that three San Diego Police Department officers have recently tested positive for COVID-19 bringing the total cases within the department to seven. 

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