Full legal representation is available through a legal aid program to eligible low-income tenants in San Diego who have been potentially facing evictions due to nonpayment or other COVID-19 related issues. 

During a Dec.6 San Diego city council meeting, the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) announced it will oversee and administer $5 million in Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to the Eviction Prevention Protection Program (EPP). The funding is assigned for 19 months of the program's operation.  

Formally proposed by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria during a Oct.5 city council meeting, the EPP provides eviction prevention education and legal assistance to struggling tennants. The Legal Aid Society of San Diego entered an initial seven-month contract effective Dec.1 2021 to administer full legal representation to qualified households regardless of immigration status through June 30, 2022 with a one-year renewal option. 

According to Gloria, the EPP supplements the city’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program which has helped roughly 12,000 struggling households in San Diego. 

In 2020, eviction moratoria were rapidly deployed at multiple levels of government in response to the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A statewide moratorium expired September 30, 2021. 

Assembly Bill 832 was passed to provide additional state protections for renters from Oct.1, 2021 through March 31. According to a city council resolution, the EPP will and will help address a potential increase in evictions due to the expired eviction moratorium and confusion over the new eviction protections under State law. 

The program is set to provide outreach, education, legal representation, case management and legal services for eligible households. Additional services and public awareness campaigns are included in the program to increase public awareness of tenants’ rights, eviction protections and the services available under the program. 

Legal services attorneys will represent eligible tenants throughout the pre-eviction and eviction process, in settlement negotiations and through trial, if necessary. Low income communities will be offered limited legal services via clinics, hotlines or appointments. ‘

The SDHC will be working with the court system to inform and update on rental assistance programs for San Diego, Chula Vista and all areas of the county. 

“This program was needed even before the pandemic. I am happy to see it now and hope to see this continue for years to come,” Councilmember Vivian Moreno said during a Dec.6 council meeting. 

According to Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, this program addresses power disparities between those who have legal representation and those who don't. 

“This is not just an investment in legal services, not just an investment in eviction prevention. For those of us who attempt to help folks navigate the legal system, we know it is an investment in equalizing power in the community,” Elo-Rivera said.  

For details about the city program, visit www.sdhc.org/covid19hsap. Applications can be submitted at covidassistance.sdhc.org.

The Legal Aid Society of San Diego says tenants served with eviction notices should call (877) 534-2524 for help.

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