Morning Report: Rental Relief Proving Hard to Dole Out

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Morning Report: Rental Relief Proving Hard to Dole Out

The San Diego Housing Commission office / Photo by Kinsee Morlan
The San Diego Housing Commission office / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

The San Diego Housing Commission is now predicting that millions of dollars it received to aid city renters during the pandemic could go unspent if the state doesn’t make changes.

Maya Srikrishnan reports that Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry last week implored Gov. Gavin Newsom to make several tweaks to state guidelines for rent payments that can be covered with federal funds so money wouldn’t be left on the table.

Among the changes Gentry pitched was that communities get the go-ahead to pay all rental payments owed, including prospective rent, 100 percent of back rent and upcoming rent versus the smaller amounts now allowed and to cover all hotel and motel expenses.

Gentry’s letter follows significant outreach efforts in low-income communities since the first round of rental assistance came through last year.

The commission reports it has received more than 10,600 applications but is grappling with an Aug. 1 deadline to disburse the state-allocated funds. So far, the agency has provided about $1.5 million to roughly 230 qualifying households.

The commission is making this case while noting that the county and Chula Vista are also struggling to get money out the door.

Indeed, county supervisors recently directed staff to advocate for legislative changes to address related challenges.

  • The Washington Post tells the story of renters struggling to hold onto their homes during the pandemic through the eyes of an Imperial Beach mother who has held on and fought back despite multiple orders to move out.

The Complicated Legacy of an Education Reformer

Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, who died last week, spent decades trying to reshape public education in his own image with his extreme wealth. But while it’s true that Broad and other so-called “reformers” were hostile to unions and actively tried to diminish their influence politically, Will Huntsberry argues that Broad’s legacy is much more complicated.

For instance, Huntsberry writes in the Learning Curve, Broad didn’t support public money going into the hands of private companies — he was in favor of public money going to nonprofit charters. His tactics may have been misguided and arrogant, but he correctly recognized that the current system doesn’t work for everyone.

His efforts didn’t close the achievement gap, but the movement he was a part of, Huntsberry writes, put pressure on traditional public schools to do better. 

County Releases Proposed $7B Spending Plan

San Diego County officials released a draft $7 billion budget that includes hundreds of new positions to back safety net programs and provide mental health care in jails, new departments including one focused on homelessness and more than $225 million in spending on continued spending to combat coronavirus.

In a letter included with the budget proposal, county Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said county staff emphasized racial equity, social and environmental justice, sustainability and economic recovery as they worked on the budget for the fiscal year that begins in July.

The budget recommendation calls for spending $226.9 million on the county’s COVID-19 response, including targeted efforts for vulnerable communities. It also includes more than $70 million to expand and upgrade parks including the downtown Waterfront Park plus funds to create a new County Office of Immigrants and Refugee Affairs and to support initiatives of the Office of Equity and Racial Justice established by the county last year.

The budget proposal does not yet specifically incorporate the roughly $650 million the county expects to receive from the American Rescue Plan to support continued recovery efforts.

The release of the staff budget proposal kicks off a weeks-long budget review process at the county. County supervisors are set to hear more about staff budget proposals later this month. In June, they will hold budget hearings and propose tweaks to the budget proposal.

  • In city budget news, Mayor Todd Gloria said Thursday he wants to maintain seven-day-a-week library hours in what seems to be a reversal of his initial budget proposal to move city libraries to a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and lay off dozens of library workers. City News Service has more details. 

Related: The City Council is continuing to review Gloria’s proposed budget. It’s set to hear updates on the Police Department, Fire-Rescue Department and Office of Homeland Security budgets on Friday morning, as well as other city departments and agencies next week. You can get a full schedule here

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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