NewsMaking It In San Diego


Making It In San Diego: Rental assistance for San Diegans can take years

Posted at 9:27 AM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 01:35:21-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego's a great place to live, but not everyone is making enough money to keep up with the cost of living.

According to the Center on Policy Initiatives nearly one-third of households in San Diego County don't earn enough income to make ends meet, meaning many of our neighbors need help to pay the rent.

“You learn about what’s important in life and right now having a home is the most important with me,” said Lavina Johnson.

For Johnson and her son Elijah finding a place to live can be a day-to-day struggle.

"You just try to keep the hope,” she said.

Johnson is an unemployed substitute teacher. She says her credential lapsed and she can't afford the fees for fingerprinting and licensing to get started again. She's got no steady income.

"We’re stuck with just options of the rescue mission, or the tents, which I understand is overfilled,” she said.

With the help of some housing assistance, Lavina and her son are currently living at a hotel in Chula Vista.

The room has a kitchen, a couch, and a bed, but it’s not permanent. 

The money that’s paying for their stay will run out in about a week.

"It breaks you down, she said. “It gets to the point where you're like I don't want to do this anymore.”

Lavina says she applied for section 8 housing in San Diego, the voucher program.

However, current numbers from the San Diego Housing Commission show there are about 80,000 people on the waitlist. Unlike many other cities, San Diego keeps its list open for registration. Officials say the average wait time is seven to ten years.

"What we're trying to do is balance out what our resources are and what the needs are in the community,” said SDHC president Richard Gentry. “The resources don't come anywhere near meeting the needs.”

Gentry tells 10News the voucher program is currently helping about 15,000 families, that’s about 35,000 people. More than half the people receiving help are elderly.

The value of a voucher is around $10,000 for an individual family per year.

If you do the math that's close to $150 million in funds directly benefiting people in San Diego.

"What we try to do is help the family live where they can afford to live and where they want to live within reason,” Gentry said.

Using 2017 data provided to Team 10 by the housing commission, we discovered the average number of people living in a home with a voucher is two.

Although the data we looked at instances where ten to twelve people are sharing one home. 

Lavina says she just wants somewhere stable to raise her son.

"Every minute, every dollar, every cent, goes to how am I going to make it,” she said.

For more information on how to apply for rental assistance