UPDATE 9/20/21 1:00 p.m. This is the latest installment in a series tracking financial assistance to San Franciscans with rent debt. We’ll aim to publish updated figures each week.
With less than two weeks remaining in the moratorium on COVID-19-related evictions, requests for rent assistance have climbed above $130 million in San Francisco.
A total of 11,948 households had requested $132.9 million in rent and utility assistance as of last week, six months after the government opened a financial aid program to cover housing costs that residents incurred during the pandemic, according to data from state and local officials. The program has about $152 million in funding, some of which is for administrative costs.
More than one in three applicants had either been approved or received money. That’s an improvement over seven weeks earlier, when the Public Press began tracking rent-relief dollars; then, it was about one in five applicants.
Rent debt in San Francisco stood between $147 million and $355 million in June, according to estimates by the city’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office, which reports to the Board of Supervisors. The figures are based on unemployment rates that peaked in April 2020, rendering as many as 33,200 renters jobless, and did not return to pre-pandemic levels during the period studied.
The state and local governments were previously running parallel rent-relief programs, but the city is now urging residents to only apply through the state’s program if they owe money for rent or other housing bills that were due in or after April 2020. People can also request financial aid for future housing costs.
The statewide eviction moratorium, protecting tenants who could not pay rent because of COVID-19 hardships, was originally scheduled to end Jan. 31, but lawmakers have extended it twice. Following its current end date, Sept. 30, tenants will be vulnerable to eviction if they have not paid at least 25% of the rents due in the preceding 12 months, as well as October’s rent when that payment is due. Tenants who can prove that they are eligible and have applied for financial assistance, but are awaiting a decision from the government, will continue to be protected through the end of March 2022 at latest.
How to get help: If you are facing eviction, call the Eviction Defense Collaborative at (415) 659-9184 or send an email to [email protected] 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.