Deacon Jim on eviction moratorium and Operation Shelter to Home getting extended

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposed extension of the Operation Shelter to Home program at the San Diego Convention Center through March.

Operation Shelter to Home launched on April 1 by moving individuals already in shelters into the convention center to allow for proper physical distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Because the effects of the pandemic were creating staffing challenges at the city’s various shelters, the program centralized staff in one place to ensure personnel could be efficient even with limited numbers.

Since the program began, it has served more than 3,800 people and connected 1,186 individuals and 43 families to long-term housing. Another 217 San Diegans are “in progress” to find housing through the program. According to city documents, Operation Shelter to Home costs around $5 million each month. The three-month extension is expected to cost the city $15.1 million.

The San Diego City Council also extended an eviction moratorium for renters and small businesses Tuesday to assist residents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair of ordinances to extend the existing moratorium — one for renters and one for commercial tenants — were proposed by Mayor Todd Gloria last week with the intent to protect public health and speed the city’s economic recovery.

Under the local ordinances, qualifying tenants cannot be evicted for unpaid rent due to financial hardship related to the pandemic accrued during the period starting Monday and ending 60 days after the city’s COVID-19 emergency declaration ends. For residential tenants, any unpaid rent that accumulates during this period and is not repaid will be converted to consumer debt.

President and CEO at Father Joe’s Villages, Deacon Jim Vargas, joined Good Evening San Diego to discuss the programs being extended.

On the City’s decision to extend eviction moratorium:
We thank Mayor Gloria and the City Council for taking decisive action to protect those in need in our community by extending the eviction moratorium. At Father Joe’s Villages, we see firsthand the devastation that a lack of housing causes in the lives of San Diegans. We remain deeply concerned about the growing number of people who are unable to pay their rent and know that, without actions like the one taken by the City Council yesterday, many more will find themselves with nowhere to turn but the streets. Moving forward, it will be critical for the well-being of our entire community to implement long-term solutions that assist low-income renters who have been unable to make payments during this difficult time, as well as landlords who rely on these funds for their livelihood.

On the City’s decision to extend Operation Shelter to Home:
We want to offer our gratitude to the City Council and the City of San Diego for extending the operations of Operation Shelter to Home in the San Diego Convention Center through March. During cold and rainy weather and the on-going COVID-19 crisis, it’s critical that we continue providing safe, distanced, and sanitized shelter for people living on the streets. This protects the health and well-being of people in need, and it also offers continued opportunities for our neighbors to connect with critical services that can end their homelessness for good. In 2020, Father Joe’s Villages helped over 600 Operation Shelter to Home residents gain permanent housing and overcome homelessness.

Categories: Good Evening San Diego, Local San Diego News