Shallow Rental Subsidy Program

One in four people experiencing homelessness in San Diego is over 55 years old, and this population demographic is growing.

Serving Seniors' report, Senior Homelessness: A Needs Assessment revealed significant differences working with older adults experiencing homelessness as compared to the general adult homeless population. While homelessness is an increasingly common issue for all age groups, our study found that seniors are largely becoming homeless because of economic stresses and the inability to keep up with rising rents. The report showed there are readily achievable solutions we can implement immediately at low cost in an older adult’s lifetime. One of the key recommendations is establishing a Shallow Rental Subsidy Program.

On September 27, 2021, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a pilot shallow rental subsidy program for older adults, based on Serving Seniors’ advocacy efforts and follows the recommendations we made through Serving Seniors’ Senior Homelessness Needs Assessment. The Shallow Rental Subsidy Program is designed to address the crisis of homelessness among older adults by improving housing stability for low-income older adults who, without financial assistance, may be at risk of losing their housing.

The County of San Diego Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities has launched the program and assistance payments are anticipated to start in the Spring of 2023. 

Basic elements of the proposed rental subsidy program for older adults:

Rent subsidy will be set at a flat rate of $500 per month over an 18-month period 

  • The program will serve approximately 220 households 
  • At the end of 18-months the program will be evaluated for its effectiveness 

Eligibility requirements for the program:

  • Must be a San Diego County resident 
  • Renter has a legal obligation to pay rent 
  • Landlord is willing to participate in the program  
  • Older adult is not currently receiving another flat rental subsidy in the County 
  • The head of household is 55 years of age or older 
  • The household is: 
    • Low income at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 
    • Severely rent-burdened as defined by HUD as more than 50% of income going to housing or at risk of losing housing. 
  • Priority will be given to: 
    • Head of households who are 60 or older 
    • Households at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) 
    • Households in one of the County’s identified 39 Health Equity Zip Codes

For more information click here to view the County's announcement of the pilot program or contact the County of San Diego at or call 619-980-4168.