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Study: San Diegans late on $2.4 billion in rent

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 22:56:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diegans collectively are late on $2.4 billion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a study released Tuesday from the Southern California Rental Housing Association says.

The study says the typical landlord is out five months rent, at $5,000 per unit.

“Despite making sizable and good faith efforts, nearly half of the housing providers surveyed experienced significant difficulty getting cooperation from tenants in securing rent relief,” said a statement from Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist at Point Loma Nazarene University, which conducted the study. “Landlords receiving government funding assistance say the money, on average, amounted to less than half of the rent due to them.”

When the pandemic hit, state and local jurisdictions instituted a series of protections that prevented tenants from being evicted, the strongest by the County of San Diego. At the same time, Coronavirus stimulus money funded rental assistance programs that allowed landlords to recover back rent and qualifying tenants to get out of debt.

Eviction moratoriums have since expired, except for a key protection in California: Through March, residents cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent so long as they have applied or have a pending application for rental assistance.

The association noted issues with the government application process, and suggested shifting the filing burden to landlords.

But Gilberto Vera, senior attorney with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, said unlike other cities, San Diego's rental assistance program has been such a success that the housing commission has a backlog. He said he believes the study's $2.4 billion conclusion is too high,

"I find it hard to believe that that many tenants would not apply for rental assistance and risk their housing," said Vera. "And not just risk their housing but be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt that they will carry around for years."

Applications are open for rental assistance, including at The San Diego Housing Commission.