San Diego housing agency allows landlords wide latitude to raise rates for publicly subsidized housing

Illustration by Steve Breen/inewsource.

The San Diego Housing Commission hands out about $300 million in federal money annually to help low-income tenants pay rent. When landlords want to increase the rent, the Housing Commission must first approve — and it does so nine times out of 10, reporter Cody Dulaney found. Dulaney sifted through data to find that in 2022, the commission fielded more than 10,000 applications to raise the rent on tenants in the federal Section 8 housing program, which serves about 16,000 San Diego families who rent on the private market.  With a grant and other support from the Fund, Dulaney in Inewsource reported that the Housing Commission did not know how many rent hikes illegally exceed the state’s cap on increases. The agency relies on the landlords’ check on a form to assess that they are following the law. Dulaney’s analysis of 107 approved rent increases showed that more than 20% exceeded the state’s cap – and some applications showed rent hikes as high as 53%. Housing Commission officials said they don’t have the tools or the policies to check whether rent increases exceed the state’s cap.