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

Mayor Gloria announces $45.5 million in COVID-19 rent relief from state

This assistance not only provides rent relief, but also help for San Diegans who are behind on their utility bills.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — On the heels of announcing federal rental assistance in late January, Mayor Todd Gloria announced Friday the state will provide $45.5 million in assistance for San Diego residents unable to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19.

These funds can also be used to help some San Diegans who are behind in paying their utility bills. A recent study by the state's Water Resources Control Board, for example, finds that nearly 70,000 San Diegans county-wide are currently behind on their water bills.

The state and direct federal funding amounts to nearly $87.9 million in relief for families and individuals who have been devastated financially by the pandemic. This is on top of $13.75 million in emergency rental assistance that helped 3,717 San Diego households in 2020.

Community organizers who advocate for struggling San Diego renters say this assistance is desperately needed. 

"In addition to rent, there's a lot of other debt accruing because people are just struggling," said Grace Martinez, San Diego director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

"We come across people who have used their credit cards to pay their rent, or worse yet, they're going to a check-cashing place to pay the rent," she added.

"The day-to-day struggle of having to deal with the stress, the uncertainty," is one of the biggest challenges many of these families face, said Jose Lopez, San Diego's lead organizer for ACCE.

"Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the California Legislature really came through for tenants and landlords in our city and across California who have had an incredibly hard time throughout this crisis," Mayor Gloria said.

"I commit we are going to get these monies out as quickly as possible and make sure as many San Diegans as possible can be assisted," Gloria told News 8. 

 "I will work to get these rent relief dollars out for the benefit of our renters as soon as possible."

The funding comes as part of Senate Bill 91, which distributes to local agencies funds the state received from the federal government. SB 91 also extended a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants unable to pay rent due to the effects of COVID-19. The moratorium is effective through June 30.

On Jan. 26, the San Diego City Council approved Gloria's proposal to extend pandemic-related ban on both residential and commercial evictions. The state's law supersedes San Diego's residential eviction moratorium. San Diego's moratorium on residential evictions will last until 60 days after the city's emergency declaration is lifted and it will become effective on July 1 if the city is still under a state of emergency.

The state legislation does not protect commercial tenants. San Diego's ban on commercial evictions will last until June 30, or 60 days after the city's emergency declaration is lifted, whichever comes first.

Gloria announced on Jan. 21 the city had received more than $42.3 million in direct federal funding for rent and utility payment assistance.

An online portal is available on the San Diego Housing Commission's website for city residents interested in receiving information about the application process for the upcoming program. 

Those interested should click here.