‘A Serious Crisis’ — Experts Discuss Expiring Eviction Protections

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.

Tenant Protections are Expiring as Thousands Wait on Rent Assistance

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. 

A view of tall buildings in San Francisco's Marina district, with a palm tree in the foreground. California tenants facing COVID-19 hardships must request rent and utility assistance before the end of March, when the state will stop accepting applications for rent relief.

California’s Rent-Relief Program to Stop Taking Applications March 31

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.

Hear Why Hundreds of Homeless San Franciscans Wait Months as Rooms for Them Sit Empty

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.  

A view of four-story apartment buildings on a San Francisco street. An eviction wave could wash over California starting in April, after statewide protections for renters expire, according to tenants' groups.

California Evictions Could Soar in April, Tenant Groups Warn

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.

An illustration with 25 panels depicting calendar pages alternating with experiences of people living in homelessness or temporary shelter while waiting to be assigned to permanent housing.

In San Francisco, Hundreds of Homes for the Homeless Sit Vacant

As of early February, the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing reported 1,633 homeless people approved for housing and awaiting their turn to move in. Yet records provided by the department show 888 vacancies in its permanent supportive housing stock as of Feb. 22. Filling those empty rooms would not just cut the waiting list by more than half. It would be enough to house roughly one in every eight homeless people in the city. The homelessness department said it cannot talk about individual cases, but officials acknowledged that at least 400 people have been waiting more than a year, far beyond the department’s professed goal of placing applicants into housing 30 to 45 days after they’re approved.

A birds-eye view of several multi-story apartment buildings, with downtown San Francisco in the background.

SF Tenants Set to Gain New Powers in Negotiations With Landlords

Tenants across San Francisco will gain new collective bargaining powers to affect conditions in their buildings, thanks to a move by lawmakers Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved protections for tenants to form associations, akin to labor unions, that can negotiate with landlords over a wide range of concerns, including issues like construction schedules and even helping tenants pay off debts taken on to cover rents, often called “shadow debt.”

Coit Tower and the San Francisco Bay are seen behind apartment buildings in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.

SF Renters on Verge of Winning Collective Bargaining Rights

Groundbreaking tenant protections just got closer to becoming a reality in San Francisco.

City supervisors Monday gave the initial thumbs-up to legislation to protect the formation of tenant associations that, like unions, could collectively bargain with landlords. The three-person Rules Committee voted unanimously to approve the protections, which now move to the full Board of Supervisors.

A young Black man stands on a San Francisco sidewalk. Down the sidewalk behind him sit tents and strewn clothing.

SF Fires Linked to Homeless Surged as Pandemic Set In

Fires associated with homeless encampments in San Francisco rose by more than two-thirds during the first year of the pandemic, according to a Public Press analysis of the narrative texts from San Francisco Fire Department reports.

Fires are an ever-present fear for people living on the streets, where an errant spark could send flames ripping through a tent or other temporary shelter, sending its contents quickly up in smoke. Unhoused residents who have suffered through this experience report receiving little of the help available to those assisted after fires in buildings.