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Board votes to create rental subsidy program for older low-income San Diegans

Katie Cadiao

County of San Diego Communications Office

The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Sept. 27 to establish a rental subsidy pilot program for seniors who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The Pilot Shallow Rental Subsidy Program will provide a monthly rental subsidy of $500, paid directly to the landlord of a low-income senior San Diegan. Each subsidy will be paid for up to 18 months.

To qualify, an applicant must be at least 55 years old and the head of household. The applicant’s household income may not exceed 50% of the area median income, and the household must be severely rent-burdened, which is defined as paying more than 50% of household income towards housing.

During the pilot program, preference will be given to applicants 60 years or older whose income is at or below 30% of the area median income and to seniors who live in a Health Equity area of the county.

“Older adults on fixed, limited incomes are struggling with rising housing costs and have also become the fastest growing part of our homeless program,” said Barbara Jiménez, the County Community Operations Officer who oversees the Department of Homeless Solutions & Equitable Communities. “This pilot program will help seniors make ends meet and remain in their homes.”

The application window will open by the beginning of next year and rental subsidies will be paid starting in March of 2023. If the pilot program is successful, the county will pursue additional funding opportunities to support the sustainability and expansion of the program.

The county will use existing communications networks, social media, community partners, and promotoras to ensure all eligible households are aware of this pilot program.

This Board action supports the Framework for Our Future and Framework for Ending Homelessness. Approximately 220 households could be assisted through the pilot program.

Shifting demographics

The pilot program was approved on the same day the Board of Supervisors accepted an update on the Aging Roadmap, a comprehensive blueprint for older adult services in the region.

More than 700,000 people over the age of 60 call San Diego home and the senior population is increasing exponentially. Residents over 60 are the fastest growing population in the region and by 2030, more than 900,000 San Diegans will be 60 or older.

The Aging Roadmap ensures that the region has programs and communities that support the needs of older adults and celebrates their contributions to society. It also addresses the challenges and opportunities that accompany this demographic shift.

“It is important we continue to focus on ensuring seniors are able to thrive and maintain a good standard of living, said Kimberly Gallo, Aging & Independence Services director. “The Aging Roadmap provides a blueprint to help our growing population of older adults navigate the challenges and opportunities that are accompanying this shift in demographics.”


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