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Upcoming City Law to Give Low-Income San Diegans More Housing Opportunities (CA)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Upcoming City Law to Give Low-Income San Diegans More Housing Opportunities

"The two-bedroom apartment where Jacquelina Hernandez Romero lives is spacious enough to accommodate her four-generation family when her son and grandkids visit from out of town. But the $1,500 a month in rent is tough on Hernandez Romero's $2,000 monthly budget. She recently received a rental subsidy after more than a decade on a waiting list, but her landlord didn't have to accept it.

It's a problem faced by many low-income San Diegans, but it's about to change under a new city law. An ordinance approved last year bars landlords from rejecting applicants because they use rental subsidies, especially Section 8 vouchers.

Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, who represents City Heights and is now the council president, proposed the measure in July to help low-income tenants find housing in high opportunity areas and avoid homelessness.

"All we are asking is that landlords allow Section 8 to apply and to evaluate (recipients) in the same way as any other applicant," Gomez said at the meeting.

The law goes into effect later this year, but many landlords are unfamiliar with the coming changes or are still opposed. Attorney Rosalina Spencer with Legal Aid Society of San Diego said the nonprofit is holding educational sessions ahead of the law to bring property owners and managers up to speed.

"The temperature with the landlords is one, being unaware of this ordinance being passed, being unaware that they’re no longer allowed to exclude a certain type of tenant from their applicant pool," Spencer said, "And I think there might be a little bit of resistance."

Critics have said accepting government subsidies also means accepting more regulations. That includes inspections, which can delay the time between identifying a tenant and receiving rent.

The local housing authority, the San Diego Housing Commission, said it is streamlining these hurdles. The agency's Senior Vice President of Rental Assistance Azucena Valladolid said this month it began offering inspections even before a voucher recipient moves in..."

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