San Francisco residents revealed their top local concerns in a recent Public Press poll. They were given the chance to weigh in on some of those matters during this November’s election.
More than one month after statewide eviction protections expired on June 30, less than 4% of rent relief funds requested by San Francisco households remain unprocessed, with 55% of funds paid out.
Roughly two years, multiple eviction moratoriums and over $3.6 billion in rent-relief payments after tenant advocates began worrying COVID-19 hardships would push thousands of renters out of their homes in San Francisco and elsewhere, California policy interventions aimed at preventing evictions are poised to end.
Barring an eleventh-hour postponement by lawmakers (not out of the question, given three previous last-minute extensions), California’s eviction protections expire June 30. Among those vulnerable to being forced from their homes are more than 135,000 tenants whose applications for rent relief have been denied, and thousands more whose applications may be denied in the future or not processed by the time protections are lifted.
Co-published with ProPublica.
Tabitha Davis had just lost twins in childbirth and was facing homelessness. The 23-year-old had slept on friends’ floors for the first seven months of her pregnancy, before being accepted to a temporary housing program for pregnant women. But with the loss of the twins, the housing program she’d applied to live in after giving birth — intended for families — was no longer an option.
A few weeks later, Davis was informed that the score she’d been given based on her answers to San Francisco’s “coordinated entry” questionnaire wasn’t high enough to qualify for permanent supportive housing. It was a devastating blow after an already traumatizing few months.
Just one day before statewide rent relief protections were set to expire, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signed into law a proposal to extend pandemic-related eviction protections through June 30 for tenants who applied for help paying the debts accumulated up to today. Kounalakis became the first woman in Californian history to sign a bill into law after the state Senate passed the bill this morning. She is filling in for Gov. Gavin Newsom while he is on vacation.
A bill introduced Thursday in the California Assembly would extend eviction protections by three months for tenants who have applied for emergency rent relief related to the coronavirus pandemic. The catch: To qualify, tenants who haven’t yet asked for help would need to submit applications by the end of March, giving them less than a week to get their requests in the queue.
If state lawmakers don’t act fast, tenants across California will become vulnerable to eviction next month for rent debts they accumulated during the pandemic.
Amid increasing calls for Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to avert an eviction wave, the San Francisco Public Press held a live panel discussion Wednesday about how the state got to this moment and what comes next. The Public Press spoke with Ora Prochovnick, director of litigation and policy at the Eviction Defense Collaborative, which provides free legal aid to people facing eviction, and Shanti Singh, communications and legislative director at Tenants Together, a statewide coalition of tenant-rights groups.
The last remaining tenant protections against eviction for pandemic-related rent debt that were granted by the state are expiring at the end of the month. A new protection covering rent due in April will go into effect for San Francisco tenants, but even these residents will be vulnerable to eviction for past rent debt at the beginning of the month.
California will stop accepting applications for rent assistance from people facing COVID-19 hardships at the end of this month, the San Francisco mayor’s office said.
Local governments throughout the state will have to figure out how to help people still struggling to cover rent as the economy continues its climb back to pre-pandemic levels.
A recent investigation from the San Francisco Public Press and ProPublica indicates Hanson is not alone in her frustration. But the problem is not that there is nowhere for people to go. Rather, hundreds of units of permanent supportive housing — rooms in hotels or full apartments intended to get people experiencing homelessness a roof over their heads and connected with services — are sitting empty. Meanwhile, more than 1,600 people have been approved to move into them, and more than 400 people on the streets have been waiting to be housed for more than a year.
California could see widespread evictions next month because of government delays in getting federal funds to renters, tenant groups warn.
Tenants throughout the state will still be waiting for rent assistance by April, when their pending applications will cease to protect them from eviction for those debts, the groups said in a report Tuesday.