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Rental assistance for San Diego County now tops $100 million

The funds will be available to county residents outside the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista, both of which have separate funding assistance.

SAN DIEGO — The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to provide $52 million in state funds for rental assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be available to county residents outside the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista, both of which have separate funding assistance.

Emergency rental assistance funds "will bring needed financial relief to families who are still having a hard time making ends meet as we work our way back from the devastating effects of this pandemic," said board Chairman Nathan Fletcher, who is also a member of the county's COVID-19 subcommittee.

Fletcher also praised the Biden administration and Gov. Gavin Newsom "in recognizing there are still struggling families that continue to need our support." The funding comes from the recently adopted Senate Bill 91.

Supervisors had three options on how to handle fund distribution, and chose one that gives the county more say on allocating the money.

The County of San Diego will soon be opening the application period for the 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance Program with details on the county website.

David Estrella, director of Housing & Community Development Services, said the county must meet certain timelines, including distributing at least 65% of the money by June. The county will also have hire more people to handle distribution of rental assistance money, Estrella said.

In January, the board voted to accept $48.8 million in federal funds also being used for rental assistance.

During a COVID update on Tuesday, Dr. Wilma Wooten, public health officer, told supervisors that while the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions are declining, the county "has a long ways to go" before reaching the less restrictive "red" tier of the state's economic-reopening roadmap.

"We remain cautiously optimistic," said Wooten, who thanked residents for helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus and urged them to continue following existing guidelines.

Nick Machionne, Health and Human Services director, said the county administered 30,000 vaccinations in January.

The goal is to administer 35,000 vaccinations per day by Feb. 28, Machionne said.

After vaccinating all people now in the Phase 1A group, the county will next focus on those in the emergency services, education, childcare and food and agriculture fields, he added.

The county has four active "superstations" to distribute vaccinations, with plans to open more, Machionne said.

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