April 29, 2019

San Diego to Receive Millions in Additional Federal Funding to Help Families with Low Income Pay Rent

SAN DIEGO, CA – Millions of dollars in federal funding is coming to the San Diego region to provide additional rental assistance to households with low income, including families experiencing homelessness, beginning with Fiscal Year 2020, which starts on July 1, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) decision to increase rental assistance funding for the San Diego area is consistent with a San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) request, supported by findings from an SDHC-funded rent survey, as well as housing priorities advocated by Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Council President Georgette Gómez.

“There are many vulnerable households across the San Diego region that rely on rental assistance from the federal government to make ends meet, and it’s still not enough for some because of the high housing costs here. That’s why we’ve been advocating so hard for years for additional funding from HUD that is more in line with the actual cost of living. HUD officials have been receptive to that message and are now following through by delivering millions more that will help house low-income individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer.

SDHC led the effort to increase rental assistance funding for the region by asking HUD to reevaluate the rent levels it uses to calculate funding and by commissioning a rent study that demonstrated that the rent levels HUD established were too low for the San Diego market.

HUD has informed the six public housing agencies in San Diego County, including SDHC, that they will each receive an approximately 14 percent increase in rental assistance funding. For SDHC, which provides rental assistance in the City of San Diego, this is approximately $20 million.

“This decision by HUD is good news for the residents of San Diego for many reasons. Last year, I introduced the Source of Income Discrimination Ordinance at the City to ensure that all San Diegans have access to housing opportunities throughout the City regardless of whether they use government assistance to pay their rent. Putting these additional resources and protections together will help people find and keep their homes,” said City Council President Georgette Gómez.

SDHC provides federal rental assistance to more than 15,000 households annually, which represent more than 36,000 men, women and children. Each year, SDHC’s rental assistance program injects approximately $150 million into the local economy in the form of direct rental payments to landlords.

“This is great news for San Diego. These additional funds will help the San Diego Housing Commission raise its rental assistance payment standards again as we continue to help as many low-income families as possible pay their rent in the expensive and tight rental market in the City of San Diego,” SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said.

The “payment standard” is the maximum subsidy payment that a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher would pay for an apartment or rental house, minus the applicable tenant rent portion. Families pay a predetermined amount of the rent, and SDHC pays the remainder of the rent, up to the applicable payment standard, directly to the landlord.

The payment standard is based on the number of bedrooms approved for the family’s size and the community to which the family moves. If the total rent payment for an apartment or house is higher than the payment standard, the tenant has the choice of paying the difference.

In an announcement published April 17, 2019, in the Federal Register, HUD stated that the information used to adjust the allocation of rental assistance funds to public housing authorities includes changes in the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom unit in a given area and “ad hoc rent surveys,” if such a survey has been performed in a given geographic area.

On September 27, 2018, SDHC requested that HUD reevaluate the FMRs HUD established for the San Diego Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes SDHC and public housing agencies for the County of San Diego, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas and National City.

In a letter to HUD, SDHC stated it would procure “a third-party rental survey, conducted and submitted per federal regulatory requirements, to justify further increases in the proposed FMRs, thus clarifying the correct market rent levels and appropriate funding adjustments.”

SDHC contracted with a global consulting services company, ICF Macro Inc. (ICF), to conduct a market-rate rent survey for the San Diego Metropolitan Statistical Area. HUD requirements did not allow for a rent survey for only the City of San Diego or specific ZIP Codes within the City. ICF has more than 20 years of experience conducting FMR surveys, including working with other housing authorities to appeal HUD FMRs.

The mail survey of San Diego County residents selected at random was conducted from October through December 2018. The survey identified the median gross rent for eligible rental units was $115 higher than HUD’s published FMR for a two-bedroom unit.

ICF converted the gross rents of one-bedroom and three-bedroom units to equivalent rents for two-bedroom units by using 2018 adjustment factors calculated by HUD.

SDHC submitted the survey data to HUD on January 10, 2019, and HUD acknowledged receiving the information on January 27, 2019, after the end of the partial federal government shutdown.



Media Contacts: 


Scott Marshall

Vice President, Communications

San Diego Housing Commission




Greg Block

Senior Press Secretary

City of San Diego

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer




Corinne Wilson

Communications Manager

City Council President Georgette Gómez



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