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County leaders vote to create a pilot program to prevent senior homelessness

Virus Outbreak Making Rent
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 08, 2022

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — County leaders are moving ahead on creating a pilot program to pay landlords the difference in rent needed to keep seniors off the streets.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass the measure presented by Supervisors Joel Anderson Terra Lawson-Remer.

“I am grateful to my Board of Supervisors colleagues for supporting this preventative measure that will keep older adults in their homes. I am also grateful to Supervisor Lawson-Remer for co-authoring this board letter with me,” said Supervisor Anderson.

Serving seniors an organization that helps disadvantaged seniors recommended the program.

"Twenty-seven percent of people on the streets of San Diego are seniors. I mean that's unacceptable to have that many seniors on the street. So, this is targeting that group who are primarily economically homeless," said Paul Downey, Serving Seniors. "It will really target those most in need and those that are most vicarious about falling into homelessness," he said.

Downey said the idea was sparked after his organization conducted a 'needs assessment' among four hundred seniors- half were homeless or had been and the other half were on the cusp of it.

"56 percent said $350 or less was the difference between housed or unhoused. So the obvious solution was to bridge the $300 gap," explained Downey.

The county will touch base on the pilot program again in the coming months.

Downey thinks a pilot like this has the potential to impact hundreds.

"Realistically, you're not going to cover every single person that's out there. They may not even want to participate, but I'm hoping we can get 500 to 1,000 folks at least covered--maybe more," said Downey.

The two supervisors that presented the pilot suggest using pandemic relief funds to operate the program, but county staff will present potential funding options in the coming months.