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San Diego County rental subsidy program expands for older adults

Applications for the additional 160 adults can be submitted starting on Wednesday.
Posted at 11:25 PM, May 22, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A wall full of books from Stephen King to Edgar Allen Poe is part of Matthew Pallamary’s Midway apartment.

He’s been here for about two years, but life wasn’t always this cozy. Rather, it was compact.

“Some years back, prior to social security, prior to when I got a job with the Census, I was actually homeless for about four and half months. I ended up living in my car,” Pallamary said; “Aside from that four and half months in my car, I spent about ten years couch surfing.”

Pallamary told ABC 10News his current apartment was all he could afford with the skyrocketing rents in San Diego.

“My rent takes about half of my social security check,” Pallamary said.

But about seven months ago, he got an email that gave him peace of mind. It was about the County’s pilot shallow rental subsidy program for older adults.

Barbara Jimenez with the San Diego County's Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities Department said those eligible will have $500 paid directly to their landlord for 18 months.

“This is really focused on a couple of things," Jimenez said. "One, the increase that we’ve seen in seniors that are experiencing or at risk of becoming homeless. And also, just some studies that demonstrated that it’s that rental subsidy between $300 and $500 a month that would help these seniors avoid become homeless.”

To apply for the program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a San Diego resident 55 years or older at risk of homelessness. 
  • Have a household income at or below 50% of the Area Median Income.
  • Be severely rent-burdened, paying more than 50% of your income toward housing costs. 
  • Have a lease or rental agreement in your name and a landlord willing to participate in the program. 
  • Not be receiving funds from another rental subsidy program. 
  • Sign consent forms to participate in the program and an evaluation. 

The latest Point In Time Count showed seniors made up about 30 percent of the region’s homeless population, a slight uptick from 2023.
On Wednesday, the County accepted an additional 160 applications for the subsidy program, which has already helped more than 220 people.

“It can be a real lifesaver,” Pallamary said.

Pallamary said this program can give other older adults some of the peace of mind rent-wise he’s gotten, so more seniors don’t fall into homelessness.

“Those sudden expenses that come out of nowhere when you have a regular budget,” Pallamary said. “It’s been tremendous. Case in point, last month I went to the dentist last month, two cracked crowns, $2,000, bang!”

Those with questions regarding the subsidy program can call (619) 780-3684 or email