Rental apartments available through the San Diego Housing Commission
Rental apartments available through the San Diego Housing Commission. Courtesy SDHC

County supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted in favor of making rental assistance more available for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and working with the state to allow the safe return of youth sports competition.

Based on a proposal from Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, rental assistance will be available for a six-month period, allowing more residents access to help with priority given to single parents.

As part of another request from Lawson-Remer, a staff report on possibly expanding the rental assistance program to undocumented residents will be presented to the board within a month.

The county will receive around $49 million in federal funds to help renters in unincorporated areas and 16 cities, said David Estrella, director of Housing and Community Development Services.

The application process will start in February, primarily be online and include certain guidelines, Estrella said, adding that between 1,000 and 4,000 households would be eligible.

The cities of San Diego and Chula Vista are receiving separate amounts of federal money for rental assistance, Estrella said.

Supervisor Jim Desmond offered a “friendly amendment that the county prioritize working with the state to devise a plan to allow youth sports/safe competition to resume,” which was passed by the board as part of the rent relief vote.

Desmond added that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent decision on re-openings means the lockdown was unnecessary.

Lawson-Remer praised President Joe Biden for efforts to help those hurting financially because of the pandemic. “We have to act with similar urgency locally,” she said.

During a public comment period, many urged the county to find even more money for rental assistance, while others criticized policies they felt were still too strict.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said he was pleased to see his colleagues take an “evidence-based approach to addressing the pandemic.”

— City News Service contributed to this article

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