Featured in the San Francisco Public Press:
This is the latest snapshot of financial assistance to San Franciscans with rent debt, which we have been tracking on this page since February. We publish updated figures each week, except in weeks when new data is unavailable.
Less than a month before statewide eviction protections expire on June 30, close to 51% of requested funds for rent assistance in San Francisco had been paid out.
Over 25,000 San Francisco households had asked for over $348 million in rent and utility assistance from both state and local COVID-19 rent relief programs as of the week of June 6, according to government figures. The amount requested declined 6.7% between April 11 and June 6 as the state continued to weed out ineligible applications. The state stopped taking applications on March 31, more than a year after it opened a financial aid program to cover housing debt incurred by tenants due to pandemic hardship.
Households whose applications have been approved by June 30 can stay an eviction even if they have not received payment yet.
California passed legislation to ensure all eligible households who applied by the March 31 deadline will receive funding. Recent budget proposals would earmark additional money for rent relief.
More than $133 million in rent and utilities requested from the state program by San Franciscans has been denied as of the week of June 6.
The following figures include San Francisco residents’ requests from California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief Program and San Francisco’s original Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which stopped taking applications in September 2021. It does not include requests from the city’s newest rent relief program, which began accepting applications April 1.
In 2021, California received $5.2 billion for emergency rental assistance funds from the federal government. The state has since acquired nearly one out of every three dollars of federal reallocations of unused funds from other states, for a total of $198 million.
Rent debt in San Francisco is estimated to be $173.6 million as of May 2022, according to the National Equity Atlas rent debt dashboard.
Tenants who have previously applied to the program and are awaiting rent relief are protected from eviction through June 30 for rent due between April 2020 and April 2022 under AB 2179. Under the same bill, local eviction protections passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in March were voided. Local governments are barred from enacting any new eviction protections that would take effect before July 1.
In response to the state’s move to cease accepting applications, the city reopened its own rent relief program for tenants who are seeking funds for rent debt accumulated in April and beyond. So far, it has distributed $2.24 million in funds to 425 households, and residents who need help are encouraged to apply.
Last Friday, the city said 2,942 households had applied for assistance through the new program. Because most applications were for future rent, the department doesn’t know the exact amount requested, according to an email response from Audrey Abadilla, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.
In its previous rent relief program, San Francisco assisted over 3,200 applicants with $21.7 million in relief. An additional $283,093 in requests from 60 households are yet to be processed.
The statewide eviction moratorium, protecting tenants who could not pay rent because of COVID-19 hardship, was originally scheduled to end Jan. 31, 2021, but lawmakers extended it twice. Following the moratorium’s final end date, Sept. 30, San Francisco tenants became vulnerable to eviction for nonpayment of rent if they had not paid at least 25% of the rents due in the preceding 13 months, as well as October’s rent.
However, California lawmakers did create some protections for renters who were unable to pay back rent after the moratorium expired. Tenants who applied to the state’s rent relief program before the deadline and were waiting on relief were protected from eviction through March 2022. State lawmakers in late March extended those protections through June 30.
Even though they may have been barred from evicting some tenants, starting in November 2021, landlords could sue tenants to obtain unpaid rent that was due from March 2020 through September 2021. If a landlord pursues the debt in small claims court, they and the tenant must represent themselves in the courtroom.
Are you facing eviction? Call the Eviction Defense Collaborative at (415) 659-9184 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. The organization advises that tenants respond within five days of being served with court papers to avoid the risk of a default judgment against them.Is your landlord suing you to recover pandemic rent debt? Go here to read our guide on how small claims court works, and how to argue your side of the case.