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San Diego County Supervisors propose pilot program to help low-income seniors avoid homelessness

Posted at 7:33 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 10:33:09-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County Supervisors Joel Anderson and Terra Lawson-Remer will introduce a joint-board letter at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting asking county staff to design a pilot program that would provide a "shallow rent subsidy" to low-income, rent-burdened older adults who are imminently at-risk of homelessness.

According to San Diego's 2020 Point in Time Count, one out of four of San Diego's homeless adults is over the age of 55. According to the supervisors, there are 2,000 older adults that are actively homeless, a number that is projected to triple over the next decade.

"We want to keep San Diego residents in their homes," Anderson said. "Many older adults living on fixed incomes are having to make the choice between paying rent and covering necessary expenses such as food, transportation, and medical costs. Early prevention programs, like this one, lead to better life outcomes and long-term cost savings."

San Diego's regional housing supply has not kept pace with the needs of low-income older adults, where wait lists for subsidies and voucher programs can extend several years, the supervisors said. There are 68,000 individuals on the San Diego County Housing Choice Voucher wait list and nearly 40,000 individuals on waitlists for Project Based vouchers.

"No senior should be sleeping on a sidewalk because they lost their home," said Lawson-Remer. "This program will help to catch seniors before they fall into homelessness, making sure a roof stays over their head and they can live with the dignity they deserve."

Anderson and Lawson-Remer said a "relatively modest" amount of rental assistance could be the difference between an older adult staying in their home or experiencing homelessness. According to them, a few hundred dollars per month may prevent half of the older adults surveyed in the Serving Seniors Homeless Needs Assessment from experiencing homelessness, while estimates provided by county staff for emergency shelter operating costs, including services, range between $2,500 to $6,000 per person, per month.

The supervisors will suggest the county includes stimulus funds and American Rescue Plan Act funds dedicated to homelessness solutions as a potential funding source.