A San Diego County COVID hotel guest’s struggle to find permanent accommodation
By Zoe Meyers and Cody Dulaney | new source
Linda McDowell got goosebumps after visiting a downtown apartment a few blocks from the San Diego Bay. It was spacious enough for her 6-year-old pit bull named Stella, and with a park down the street, it seemed perfect. She almost couldn’t believe it would be the first place to be called since before the pandemic.
On the way to the bank to get money to hold the apartment, Linda sang aloud, “I’m gettin’ an apartment,” incorporating her own version of the Sam Cooke classic, “We’re havin’ ‘ a party. Dance to the music.
For more than a year, Linda and Stella have lived in a San Diego County-run hotel in Old Town, which was used to temporarily house people with pre-existing health conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. She is one of dozens of others still staying at the hotel as trouble the program is at risk of ending a month earlier than expected.
The other guests only have a few weeks to find a new place to live, or they will be sent to a homeless shelter. A county spokesperson said officials are doing all they can to help and pointed to the number of housing grants that have been awarded.
Linda is one of 30 guests who received a Section 8 Voucher, a form of government assistance that helps low-income residents pay for housing, and it gave her peace of mind knowing she would have financial support to cover the monthly rent of $2,445. Even so, she learned how difficult it can still be to find a home in San Diego.
“It’s been a long journey,” she said.
The hotel shelter program was relax since the start of the year, and county staff and contractors are expected to work with clients to help them find housing. But for the past few weeks, Linda said she hadn’t been getting the help she needed, so she decided to start touring and applying for units on her own.
So far, she hasn’t been successful and she fears she won’t be able to find accommodation before the program ends.
County officials still haven’t told guests when to exit the hotel, but time is running out.