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Rent Relief On The Way (San Diego News Now)

Mayor Todd Gloria Monday urged workers affected by the pandemic to apply for rent relief though San Diego’s COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program. Meanwhile, according to HHS plans, the San Diego Convention Center will be used on a temporary basis to house unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed the border. Plus, the city of Calexico finally voted to sell the federal government nearly 2.5 acres of undeveloped land initially slated for a border wall — but that vote appears to have come too late.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Tuesday. March 23rd.


Officials want you to apply for rent relief if you need it.

More on that next, just after the headlines….


The Petco Park vaccination super station is now closed to make way for baseball. But the new vaccination site at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena opens today. Here’s supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

“The opening of a vaccination site at this well known location offers an important expansion to not only administer vaccines but to ensure an equity based focus to make sure that communities that have been historically left behind have not been in engaged and do not have processes to ensure their access to public health”

Some appointments at Viejas arena will be set aside for zipcodes hit hardest by the pandemic.


Meanwhile, Supervisor Fletcher also says the San Diego Convention center will soon be used to house hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children who have crossed the US-Mexico border.

just as we would want for any of our children, to do everything we can to ensure safe and compassionate location to facilitate them through what is a very difficult time in their lives.

Fletcher says the plan came together over the weekend after Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra asked the county directly for help. The facility will be used for three months, and will be operated and paid for by the federal government.


A storm system is sweeping through the county today. There’s been some rain already and thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon in the western valleys. The rain should clear up by tomorrow ahead of more storms on thursday.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

San Diego officials are urging those who have lost income due to COVID-19 to apply for rental assistance. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the city has more than $83 million to give away.

AB: The money comes from the two most recent federal stimulus laws. Low-income tenants who have suffered financial hardship under the pandemic can have all of their back rent covered if their landlord agrees to forgive 20% of it. Brigette Browning leads the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 30. She says hospitality workers in particular need this aid.
BB: The sad fact is that many of our communities were already struggling with the cost of living when our tourism industry shut down. These jobs are historically low paying jobs, and often those who rely on them struggle to support their families and are overwhelmingly women, immigrants and people of color.
AB: City Councilmember Raul Campillo says many people have already applied for the aid.
RC: But we need to do as much as we can to contact more San Diegans in hard to reach areas with billboards, by internet, radio, newspaper, interviews, and historically underserved communities as well to make sure that no one who needs this help falls through the cracks.
AB: The assistance can also be used to pay off utility bills. Applications in English, Spanish and Vietnamese are at Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.

And that was KPBS Metro Reporter Andrew Bowen.

The city of Calexico waited months before deciding to sell land to the federal government for border wall development. Part of the land is occupied by a temporary encampment of farmworkers. But It turns out the vote to sell came too late. inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman has more.

BOWMAN: Calexico city councilmembers considered it a done deal … twenty-seven-thousand dollars from the U-S government in exchange for two-and-a-half acres of land.
BOWMAN: There’s just one problem. The federal government can’t buy the property.
URENA: “I was just told a couple minutes ago by the city manager that the land sale has been canceled directly because of the proclamation.” (00:07)
BOWMAN: That’s Calexico Councilmember Raul Ureña. He’s talking about President Joe Biden’s announcement in January to suspend border wall construction.
BOWMAN: The land the city thought it sold is slated for a second border wall in Imperial County. Federal officials told inewsource they began asking the city for a final decision … in September. It’s unknown why Calexico waited months to vote.
BOWMAN: Mayor Pro Tem Javier Moreno supported the sale. He said fighting it could have been costly in court for Calexico taxpayers.
MORENO: “Imagine the impact on the fees, the attorney fees and everything else, and we’d go back to square one.” (00:05)
BOWMAN: For now, the farmworker encampment that’s occupying part of the land won’t be impacted. For

That was Inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman. For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org. inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.

Despite the economic impact of the pandemic, 2020 was a record year for remittances from the U.S. to Mexico. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has more.

Money transfer houses remained busy during the pandemic as people wired money to their families living south of the border.
Domingo Ramos Medina, an economist in Tijuana, says government aid that included stimulus checks and unemployment contributed to the historic remittances in 2020.
“ and it has to do with the government aid that helped workers who then sent money to their families in mexico.”
41 billion dollars worth of remittances were wired in 20-20 and kept many families in Mexico afloat during quarantine.
Ramos says data from January of this year is also showing an increase in remittances because the US economy is improving.
One factor to this improvement is the vaccine availability that is helping businesses reopen.

That was KPBS North County Reporter Tania Thorne.

On (monday) the last section of qualcomm stadium was demolished…..

the last light tower and the last piece of the old stadium bowl — once visible from the I-8 and the I-15 — have come down..

The old stadium makes way for the construction of SDSU mission valley and aztec stadium. sdsu mission valley development says crews are reclaiming and recycling as much of the existing stadium as possible: here’s Gina Jacobs with sdsu.

“in terms of the concrete and the asphalt of the parking lot, the majority of that is being ground up on site and reused on site for the fill and the road base throughout the projects.” (:12)

The new Aztec stadium is said to be on schedule to be done in time for the 2022 football season.

Coming up…. San Diego History Center has just opened a new exhibit focusing on Black homesteader Nathan Harrison who died in 1920.

What can we learn about our community and our society now by examining the life of this this one individual and the obstacles that he had to overcome.”

There’s more on that next, just after the break.

The San Diego History Center has opened another exhibit to go with its Celebrate San Diego: Black History and Heritage exhibit. The new exhibit focuses on Black San Diego homesteader Nathan Harrison. Harrison was a freed slave from Kentucky who lived in a small cabin on Palomar Mountain starting in the mid-1800s. KPBS arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando explains how archeology played a role in fleshing out the life and legend of Harrison and in challenging ideas about local history.

Seth Mallios is an archaeologist but on a certain level he’s just going through people’s garbage.
You know, it wouldn’t be glamorous if I went through your garbage. But boy, is it authentic. Whenever somebody writes something down, they’re aware of a future audience and so a lot of bias goes into that. But when you take out your garbage in the morning, you’re not expecting that.

About six years ago Mallios started going through Nathan Harrison’s garbage from the mid-1800s to try and figure out who this San Diego legend might have been since there was little documentation about his life outside of a vast archive of photographs. He was famous as San Diego’s first Black homesteader says Tina Zarpour, Vice President of Community Engagement, Education, and Collections at San Diego History Center.

He was one of San Diego’s first tourist destinations. People would make a trek, a three-day journey, from San Diego to Palomar Mountain to come and see him and bring provisions and different gifts and things like that. I think he was probably good at telling a story and entertaining.

But Harrison had to overcome incredible hardship and obstacles before obtaining his freedom in the 1830s and becoming one of San Diego’s most photographed residents. He was brought west from Kentucky as a slave and in the 1850s he made his permanent homestead on top of Palomar Mountain. That’s where Mallios, a San Diego State University professor of anthropology, found Harrison’s cabin along with 50,000 artifacts. But what Mallios discovered in June of 2004 didn’t look like a cabin.

It was it was waist high weeds, rattlesnakes, scorpions, you name it, right out of Indiana Jones.

This is where garbage becomes buried treasure. With each new unearthed item, Mallios was able to create a more vivid picture of Harrison the man.

And we found a little iron cross, a little pendant that is highly personal and very specific to Nathan Harrison. But it also tells this bigger story that Catholics were persecuted against during this time. So think about this for a second. He’s African-American. He’s married to an indigenous woman and he’s a converted Catholic. All these things put him in the crosshairs and very dangerous situation. And so that’s my response to why are you spending so much time on just one person and just one person’s garbage? Because it’s such a robust story.

A story that Zarpour says reveals how African Americans have had to navigate a world of inequities. For Harrison it involved the kind of dual identities that we now call code switching.

And those were very purposeful identities, and there was sort of the public persona and then there was the private persona.

Initially, the exhibit was going to be a 100-year anniversary celebration of Harrison but Mallios says the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement transformed the exhibit into something deeper.

… A lot of the Nathan Harrison story is about all the challenges he faced in terms of structural inequity. [00:23:14.850] We’re opening in 2021. And now these issues ask that question, do ethnic minorities still face these sorts of struggles in terms of structural inequity? Do they need to put on an act to get by. Those are things that Harrison was dealing with over 100 hundred years ago and that’s a key part of the story now.

But one part of the story is being kept a mystery.

I’m not going to give it away because you have to come down here to see it. But it’s how archeology revealed a big secret about Harrison’s identity.

So your invitation to play Indiana Jones awaits you at San Diego History Center’s latest exhibit on Nathan Harrison: Born Enslaved, Died a San Diego Legend.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

San Diego History Center’s exhibition Nathan Harrison: Born Enslaved, Died a San Diego Legend is currently open to in person visitors with an additional online component.

A new Institute of Contemporary Art has formed in San Diego, merging the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park with the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. The new museum will keep both campuses, and will open in the fall with an exhibition by Mexican artist Gabriel Rico. Lux’s Andrew Utt will serve as the ICA San Diego executive director, and he speaks with KPBS/Arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans.

That was Andrew Utt the executive director of the new Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego, speaking with KPBS/Arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.