The Coast News Group
The city's rent deferral program would apply only to tenants of city managed housing. Courtesy photo.

Oceanside to defer rent for city’s own tenants

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.

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KJ May 12, 2020 at 1:50 pm

As a career property manager, licensed esthetician and resident in the City of Oceanside myself, I think the counsel could get a little more creative with regards to rents. Obviously, we are still in the middle of this pandemic with no real dates set for when our economy will ever open?? Some businesses have and others are in phase 3 which affect people such as myself. Either way you swing the pendulum we have all been hit and we have been hit hard. If and when we do get back into the swing of our “new normal” we will be trying to make it check to check and stay afloat at the current time. NOT sitting and trying to budget for back rent that we can barely afford when we are working and owing for the past rent. If we can create vouchers or other programs for the special needs of some of O’side residents then we can do the same for ALL of our residents who genuinely need the assistance. A lot of us can’t go back to work because we have become full-time school teachers nd again have absolutely NO IDEA or feel nervous about putting our children in a daycare facility. Let’s not forget to mention the costs associated with day care or programs that you have to pay out of pocket. It’s a domino affect, no job, no money, no daycare….If we can get a job, find adequate and safe daycare we still need to start working to get the money to pay for childcare coverage.

I suggest that as long as a tenant cannot pay the rent and can prove that we would stick to the 3 months deferment but only make the individuals pay back a portion of the back owed rent based off of a percentage set in place depending on their income once they begin working again. This way renters stay housed and we do not increase our homeless numbers and landlords still recovery some of their money. In a time like this where everyone must sacrifice and has lost a lot, I believe we all have to take a hit in one way or another in order to survive this. I would also mandate that rent increases are put on hold until 2021 and set at a reasonable percentage not to exceed 3% so we are set up for success moving forward out of this tragedy. I am grateful for what everyone does but you officials have the power for good or bad and during this time PLEASE use it for the good of our O’side Community and find a Happy medium.

Stephanie April 16, 2020 at 9:34 pm

What good does that do? When this lockdown is over the people that needed rent assistance will be completely broke. Then we’re supposed to pay a higher rent for a year to pay it back? What an asinine plan.

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