Arley Adcock walks with his dog Cheyenne in San Diego, June 8, 2023. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Why this matters

During the pandemic, San Diego County spent millions to house people affected by COVID-19 in hotels. The program was also intended to secure permanent housing for those in need, but that hasn’t been the outcome for some residents as they try to navigate a complex system of government agencies and programs.

A Santee native who risked falling back into homelessness because of paperwork issues with his public housing assistance has averted eviction from his downtown San Diego studio for now. 

But his luck could change: Questions remain about who will pay the thousands of dollars in back rent that he thought was covered by his voucher.

Arley Adcock, who lived in a tent and later in motels during the COVID-19 pandemic, secured housing in October for the first time since 2019. But some four months after moving in with his 11-year-old dog, Cheyenne, the 58-year-old was told he owed nearly $9,000 in unpaid rent, and if he didn’t pay the balance, he would face eviction.

inewsource reported on Adcock’s pending eviction last month. Despite working with multiple service providers — including two government agencies — a contractor hired by the county of San Diego had failed to file an extension on Adcock’s housing voucher. It expired days before he even moved into his studio apartment.

Then, about three weeks after inewsource’s story published, Adcock received a one-sentence email from the county: His voucher had been extended. No further explanation was given. 

Arley Adcock kisses his dog Cheyenne at a dog park in San Diego, June 8, 2023. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

“The elation I felt, it was like a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Adcock said the day after receiving the email.

A new lease is in process, and Adcock’s $2,100-a-month unit has finally been inspected for Section 8 requirements. But he still may be responsible for paying his back rent. 

Adcock said the county, which reinstated his voucher, has not been in contact with him about the rent he owes. And the San Diego Housing Commission, the city’s public housing agency, has told Adcock that it will not cover the cost.

Because of a debilitating back injury, Adcock is unable to work and relies solely on the housing voucher. 

“There’s no way I could pay any of it,” he said.

Adcock secured the apartment after participating in a county program that placed him and others at risk of severe cases of COVID-19 in hotels during the pandemic. Before that, Adcock was living in a tent in a Santee park.

He said he was suffering with severe medical issues at the time and that the program saved his life. 

“If I would have been in a tent, I would have died,” Adcock said. 

Equus Workforce Solutions, hired by the county to manage the program, also was tasked with helping participants find permanent housing. With its help, Adcock received a Section 8 housing voucher, a form of federal assistance that has a 10-year waitlist in San Diego. It took almost two years for him to find a unit with the voucher. 

But Adcock’s voucher expired just before he was approved to move into the downtown studio. Equus never filed for an extension, though Adcock said he made the request to a case manager, but it somehow still placed Adcock in the apartment. The Housing Commission later told inewsource that in addition to the expired voucher, Adcock had also failed to submit the proper paperwork to the city requesting to rent the downtown apartment.

Arley Adcock pauses during a walk with his dog Cheyenne in San Diego, June 8, 2023. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Equus never explained how Adcock was able to lease the studio after his voucher expired, and the Kentucky-based agency did not respond to questions from inewsource about Adcock’s unpaid rent.  

Government officials also haven’t provided further information. The Housing Commission confirmed Adcock’s voucher had been extended but did not respond to questions about the unpaid rent, instead referring the inquiry to the county. But the county declined to comment, even with a notarized letter from Adcock authorizing officials to disclose information about his voucher and rental history.

Questions to Royal Property Management, which oversees Adcock’s apartment, also have gone unanswered. 

Adcock said the news has thrown him back into a state of uncertainty. The stress has affected his health, and Adcock admits he’s been drinking alcohol more to forget about what’s happening. 

“I’m tired of being up in the air about everything,” he said. “I want to know what’s going on.” 

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Zoë Meyers is a photo and video journalist at inewsource. Zoë loves working as a visual journalist because it gives her the privilege of witnessing moments in people's personal lives and in our community that can enhance our understanding of important stories. When she's not behind the camera, Zoë...