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San Diegans hit hard financially by the pandemic find help with rent and utility assistance program

The event was hosted in the San Diego and Imperial Labor Council parking lot in City Heights.

SAN DIEGO — San Diegans who are in financial hot water because of the pandemic lined up Friday to receive assistance in paying overdue rent and utility bills. The event was hosted in the San Diego and Imperial Labor Council parking lot in City Heights and there were work stations set up to collect data and help them register online.

Applicants were instructed to bring bills, income documentation and proof of need.

"I think it's excellent; especially for people who got caught up in the COVID!" Said Rome Hicks. “Me…  I’m disabled due to arthritis in my knees and yeah, I got behind.”

Justine Ginsburg said she needs assistance, too: "This is bad; everybody's getting cut off [from] unemployment now; more and more people every day are lost in what they have."   

Hundreds of people patiently waiting their turn to speak with a counselor, each with a different tale.

"People are worse off than I am but a few thousand dollars past due...  Free money, yeah, I'll wait in line for that," said Donald Fournier.

The San Diego Housing Commission, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council were all focused on cutting through the tangle of information.

"It feels good to help the community here. Folks need it, people are hurting, so we step up, help out the neighbors," Shaun McCollum explained.

Program administrator Sandra Williams of the Partnership for a Better Community was passionate about her commitment, saying:

"A lot of these folks have past due rent from the beginning of the pandemic. My job, my only job is to help the community."   

She says there's $50 million to hand out and vowed, "We're not gonna let that money go back to our government!"  

Another event is in the planning stages, which could be set for June.

Watch Related: Report: San Diego's Latino residents aren't applying for COVID-19 rental relief (April 2021)