OCEANSIDE — City Council approved the creation of a rent deferral programs for the city’s own tenants at its April 8 meeting.
City Manager Deanna Lorson recommended that the council authorize staff to implement a rent deferral program for tenants that would waive late fees and defer rent for up to three months. The deferred rent amount would then need to be repaid in 12 installments without interest beginning in 2021.
The city serves as a landlord to tenants primarily in the harbor but a number of other places throughout town, Lorson noted. This rent deferral program would apply only to these tenants.
Council unanimously approved Lorson’s recommendation for the rent deferral program.
Additionally, the city has been working to house and shelter its homeless population to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. According to Megan Crooks with the Neighborhood Services Department, the county government has contracted with hotels and motels in the area to provide safe locations for isolation or quarantine for homeless persons as well as residents who are ill and want to seek housing separate from others.
Crooks also said the police department has worked on outreach services with Interfaith Community Services, which has resulted in placing 20 homeless people from Oceanside in those hotel and motel rooms.
The city is also using its other programs to help house the homeless during the pandemic as well.
“We have rental assistance vouchers specific for homeless persons, so if they are identified as being able to be permanently housed and have the desire to do that, a social worker will work with them and utilize one of those vouchers,” Crooks said. “We had 30 and those are all filled and have been assigned.”
Crooks said the city has additional vouchers for veterans, persons or families with someone who has diagnosed mental health disorders and referrals from Child Protective Services.
“If we can connect any of the homeless persons to those three areas, we will still utilize those vouchers that we have available to permanently house them,” Crooks said.
Council also discussed other ways the city could help ease the financial crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the meeting.
Councilmember Christopher Rodriguez proposed that the council write a letter to the county that would advise the county health officials to modify its public health order to allow local jurisdictions to make decisions on what businesses are considered essential.
“We cannot continue on this pathway for much longer,” Rodriguez said. “Our local economy, our regional economy and our state economy just cannot handle it.”
Rodriguez suggested the city could open some businesses back up, such as restaurants, while still maintaining social distancing practices.
“If you go to a restaurant, you’re sitting at every other table,” he said.
Although Rodriguez’s motion died for lack of a second, Mayor Peter Weiss said he agrees with the councilmember but suggested first researching what freedom, if any, the city has in terms of getting businesses back to work as soon as possible before sending a letter.