SAN DIEGO (KGTV) New efforts are underway to connect San Diegans with an $80 million pot to help them pay rent and utilities.
Applications are open but San Diego Housing Commission data shows the response has been underwhelming. So far, just over 9,700 households have applied for the assistance, but numbers are lagging from some of the city's hardest hit areas, including Barrio Logan, San Ysidro and East San Diego.
"We don't want to leave any money on the table, we don't want to have any of this money go unused or unclaimed if people need it," said Nancy Maldonado, CEO of the nonprofit Chicano Federation, which is helping to spread the word on the program.
The city has $83 million dollars in stimulus funds to distribute to eligible San Diegans. The program will pay 80 percent of a tenant's back-rent during the pandemic, as long as the landlord is willing to waive 20 percent. The money can also go to 25 percent of a tenants rent through June.
A household of four that earns up to $92,400 a year would be eligible. A four-person household earning up to $57,750 has increased priority.
Local organizations are now door knocking, distributing fliers and using word of mouth. The Housing Commission says it has paid for ads on TV, radio, newspapers, bus benches and billboards - and mailed more than 170,000 post cards in undeserved areas with high COVID rates. The commission faces a series of deadlines for distributing the money, starting June 1.
In a statement, the commission says it is working diligently to provide the housing assistance to eligible households in need.
"Helping as many families as possible as quickly as possible through emergency rental assistance programs in response to COVID-19 remains the San Diego Housing Commission’s priority. We continue to work diligently on the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program to provide this essential assistance to households experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic."
Yessenia Sanchez, a financial opportunity advisor at the nonprofit Casa Familiar, said the group would as soon as Friday begin contacting people who started applications but did not finish them to see if they need assistance.