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February 22, 2021

Housing Stability Assistance Program Will Help City of San Diego Residential Renters Affected by COVID-19

More than $83 million will be available starting next month to help pay rent and utilities

SAN DIEGO, CA — A new program that will help pay past-due, unpaid rent and utilities for City of San Diego (City) residents with low income who experience financial hardship because of COVID-19 received City Council approval today and is scheduled to launch next month as a collaboration between the City and the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), with funding from federal and state grants.

“The San Diego Housing Commission heard my call to get more than $80 million in federal funding out to struggling renters and landlords as soon as possible. I thank them for putting together the Housing Stability Assistance Program so quickly. With today’s City Council approval, we can move forward and help tenants with back rent and overdue utility payments with some of peace of mind during this incredibly challenging and stressful time,” Mayor Todd Gloria said.

The City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance program includes more than $83 million to help qualifying households with rent and utility payments.

“Housing affordability and stability provide fundamental economic security for our communities of concern. We need both to recover fully from the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic,” said Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, who represents Council District 4. “When basic housing needs are met, it provides families with hope, dignity and a solid foundation to rebuild upon.”

“This program is critically needed for many families, and it is urgent that we distribute the funding as quickly as possible to San Diegans who need it so badly. Communities within my district—like Logan Heights and San Ysidro—have been some of the hardest hit, and Logan Heights is still seeing unemployment rates over 17 percent. This funding will ensure that residents have some security and know that they are not going to lose the roof over their head while we continue to battle this pandemic,” said City Councilmember Vivian Moreno, who represents Council District 8 and serves on the Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee.

SDHC will administer the program on behalf of the City.

“This is an essential program to help relieve the financial burden and uncertainty many families experience because they cannot pay their full rent or utilities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said. “The San Diego Housing Commission thanks Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council for their leadership in the funding and development of this program.”

To be eligible for assistance through the City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, households must meet the following criteria:

  • Tenant has a City of San Diego address.
  • Household income is at or below 80 percent of San Diego’s Area Median Income (AMI), with priority for households at or below 50 percent of AMI.
  • Household has an obligation to pay rent.
  • Household does not currently receive any rental subsidies.
  • At least one member of the household has a reduction of income or other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Household experienced or is at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Residents will apply and submit required documents through an online application portal that will be available no later than March 15, 2021, on SDHC’s website, Applications may be submitted either by a tenant or by a landlord, community-based organization or 211 San Diego on behalf of a tenant.

SDHC will be collaborating with community-based organizations to help with community outreach and to assist households with their applications, especially those without internet access. SDHC also anticipates working with 211 San Diego to provide customer service and application assistance to households seeking information or assistance from the City’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program.

The program will help pay past-due, unpaid rent and utilities for households with low income (up to 80 percent of AMI, or $92,400 per year for a family of four). Under State requirements, the program would prioritize households with income below 50 percent of AMI ($57,750 per year for a family of four) or that have been unemployed for 90 days. Rental arrears must be prioritized before paying prospective rent. If funds remain available, the program can help with upcoming rent.

California State Senate Bill (SB) 91 allows landlords to receive 80 percent of their tenants’ arrears for the period of April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, if they agree to forgo the remaining 20 percent. Landlords also can receive 25 percent of prospective rent for the months of April through June 2021, depending on funding availability. If a landlord declines this provision, the program can pay 25 percent of the tenants’ arrears and up to 25 percent of the tenant’s upcoming monthly rent for the three months of April through June 2021.

In addition to rental assistance, the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program will include assistance to pay for past-due, unpaid utilities, such as electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil. Telephone, cable and internet service are not eligible for utility assistance, and utilities paid by the landlord are considered rent.

Federal funds allocated to the City of San Diego and State of California will support the program. The federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, signed into law on December 27, 2020, included $25 billion for emergency rental assistance program funds for state, local and tribal governments throughout the United States. These funds included $2.6 billion for the State of California, of which $42,333,563 was allocated directly to the City of San Diego through the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the U.S. Department of Treasury and $45,561,171.14 was allocated to the City of San Diego through the State of California’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, as approved in SB 91, signed into law on January 29, 2021. Combined, these funds provide the City of San Diego $87,894,734.14 to assist low-income households in the City of San Diego that have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 and to pay expenses necessary to administer the program. The State is retaining $683,417.57 of these funds for its administrative expenses.

In addition, the San Diego City Council previously authorized the allocation of $5,000,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds awarded to the City of San Diego to provide rental assistance and pay expenses necessary to administer the program. Today’s City Council action authorized the use of those funds through the COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program.

SB 91 also imposed a temporary ban on evictions statewide, including San Diego. City residents cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 at least until June 30, 2021. This includes unpaid rent that was due between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

The San Diego City Council also has approved a temporary ban on evictions related to COVID-19, which will go into effect on July 1, 2021 (unless the State further extends its eviction ban) and will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the City’s COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration. For more information, visit


Media Contacts: 

Office of Mayor Todd Gloria:

Office of Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe:
Perri Storey at (619) 236-6644 or

Office of Councilmember Vivian Moreno:
Lisa Schmidt at 619-236-6688 or

San Diego Housing Commission:
Scott Marshall at (619) 578-7138 or

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