Right now, we are living through a public health crisis unlike anything we have seen in over 100 years. In California, 30,000 people have been infected by COVID-19 and more than 1,200 have died. In San Diego County, over 2,000 have tested positive and 72 have succumbed to the disease. Hundreds more are in the hospital at this moment as you read this letter.
I share these things with you not to inject fear, but to project the reality of the situation we face.
It is in these situations that people look to government for leadership. It is, therefore, incumbent on elected officials to be transparent, honest, to communicate facts, and to act in the best interest of public health and safety. It is in these moments that we must act based upon science, not politics.
The reality posed by COVID-19 has caused the state, the county, and the city of San Diego to take significant action to keep everyone healthy and safe. These actions have impacted all of us — from renters to small business owners, from students to senior citizens. I see this, I know this, and I am working with my colleagues at every level of government to mitigate these impacts.
Last month, the Legislature allocated up to $1 billion to address COVID-19. The first batch of these funds, $150 million, went to protect our unsheltered population across the state. San Diego has received more than $7 million to make sure those experiencing homelessness can become sheltered during this time and less at-risk of contracting COVID-19.
Because many Californians are unable to work or have had their hours reduced during this time, the state has redirected resources to bolster service in our unemployment insurance program. Hundreds of state workers have been re-assigned to process unemployment claims and we have extended call center hours to 12 hours of service to ensure that those who have questions or need help can access it.
For renters, both state and local directives have halted evictions due to inability to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic through May 31. While this is technically a rent deferral and not rent forgiveness, we continue to work to figure out how we address this going forward. We know it’s a significant hardship to have multiple months of rent come due at the same time, and we are looking to the federal government for assistance in this matter. Importantly, renters who aren’t able to pay rent must be in touch with their landlord to inform them.
For homeowners, a number of banks and lenders are providing mortgage payment relief during this time. This relief will allow you to reduce or defer your monthly mortgage payment. Be in contact with your lender directly to find out specific provisions and how to access this relief.
For small businesses, the state is offering the deferral of up to $50,000 in sales taxes as well as micro-loans through the state’s I-Bank. In addition, the federal government is offering significant funding through its Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Assistance Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
What this all means is that we are stepping up to meet this moment and address the impacts of COVID-19.
This is a hard time for all of us. I know practicing social isolation is particularly hard for our community. But what is important to know is that you are not alone. None of us are alone in this. All of us carry a responsibility — a responsibility to stay home, to check in and support one another, and to remember that we will get through this
San Diego has faced crisis before. The LGBTQ community has faced crisis and despair like this before. In every instance, we have banded together, we rose to the occasion, and we overcame. COVID-19 will be no different. We are all in this together.
Assembly member Todd Gloria