Prepared Testimony to San Diego City Councilmembers: In Support of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program Proposal

Testimony given by Savana Doudar, ACLU-SDIC Policy Associate June 2, 2012

The following is a prepared testimony delivered to the San Diego City Council by policy associate, Savana Doudar.

Good Afternoon Council President Gomez and Councilmembers. My name is Savana Doudar. I am a policy associate for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. We stand in solidarity with our Black community and all San Diegans who seek justice for George Floyd.

The ACLU is a proud member of the Community Budget Alliance.
I am here today to urge the council to adopt the Emergency Rental Assistance Program proposal. San Diegans need continued access to safe and secure housing because it is a human right. We must ensure that tenants, especially people who are low-income, unemployed or impacted by COVID-19 are provided with the necessary support and resources needed to ensure continued housing access.

The San Diego Association of Governments’ COVID-19 Employment Analysis found that as of April 18, nearly one in four people in our region is unemployed. COVID-19 has led to a spike in unemployment which greatly hinders economic security and leaves many San Diegans at risk of losing their access to housing. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will set our city on the right path to ensure increased economic relief and housing security.

If passed, EARP will be funded by the CARES Act and philanthropic donations.
Direct investment of CARES Act dollars into our communities is an important step in the right direction too. Divestment from police payroll, staffing and supplies coupled with investment in tenants shows dedication to meeting people’s urgent human needs. San Diegans now receiving housing assistance should not be exempt from receiving rental assistance as the housing assistance may not cover all their needs.

We recognize the need to provide immediate assistance to people experiencing homelessness, such as Operation Shelter to Home. We urge that efforts to fund the Emergency Rental Assistance Program not be done at the expense of providing homes to unsheltered San Diegans.

Finally, because federal CARES Act dollars are not accessible to our undocumented community, we must prioritize the financial needs of individuals and families who are undocumented.

It is important that this proposal include a clear stream of accessible funds for the financial protection and continued access to secure housing for these uniquely vulnerable San Diegans.

We recommend that the city direct undesignated philanthropic donations to meet this need.

Thank you for your time and your leadership during this unprecedented health crisis.