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Report: San Diego's Latino residents aren't applying for COVID-19 rental relief, still struggling to pay rent

According to TenantsTogether.org, Latinos make up 57% of all renters in California but only 35% have applied for rental assistance across the state.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Housing Commission representatives said it has $83 million in COVID-19 rent relief for families who’re struggling to pay rent during the pandemic. However, a recent state report shows that those who may need it the most aren’t applying for it, particularly in the Latino community.

News 8's LaMonica Peters talked to the Housing Commission about their efforts to spread the word about COVID rental assistance.

State officials said in the month since offering to help people struggling to pay rent, Latino residents are underrepresented in COVID-19 rental relief applications. According to TenantsTogether.org, Latinos make up 57% of all renters in California but only 35% have applied for rental assistance across the state.

“It’s really difficult to pinpoint the clear reason we’re not seeing more applications in general,” said Azucena Valladolid. 

Valladolid is the Vice President of Rental Assistance for the San Diego Housing Commission. She said the commission has made multiple attempts to reach eligible, low-income renters, including the Latino community.

“We’ve conducted an extensive amount of outreach. In this program, immigration is not a status so we’ve really started to showcase that to dispel any misconceptions or people who might be afraid of applying for those reasons,”  Valladolid said. 

Valladolid said they’ve sent 170,000 mailers, spread information through 2-1-1 and contracted with 10 community-based organizations. The Chicano Federation is one of the organizations helping Latino residents fill out applications for rent relief programs.

“This is money that belongs to our community and belongs to the people and we need people to apply for it, to really claim this money that’s being offered to you to assist with everything that we’ve been through over the past year,” said Nancy Maldonado, Chicano Federation CEO.  

State stipulations say the money can be used to pay 80% of past due rent up to one year, 100% of past due utility bills and three months of upcoming rent. Landlords will still have to agree to join the program.

The Housing Commission said nearly 9,800 people have already applied in the City of San Diego. If you’d like to find out more information about San Diego rental assistance, click here.

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