San Francisco Rent Relief Tracker

UPDATE 12/8/2021 3:30 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.

Two months after the end of the moratorium on COVID-19-related evictions, requests for rent assistance far surpass authorized funds in San Francisco but did not change much in the past week.

More than 15,700 households had asked for about $248 million in rent and utility assistance as of last week, about eight months after the government opened a financial aid program to cover housing costs incurred by tenants due to pandemic hardship, according to estimates from state and local officials.

That puts requests well beyond the amount available to San Francisco residents: $182.1 million, some of which is for administrative costs.

The Public Press previously reported that $152.1 million in rent assistance was available, based on figures the mayor’s office provided in July. The office has since updated that number to $182.1 million, noting an additional $30 million is available from tax revenue created by two local ballot measures — Proposition C, a tax on businesses passed in 2018 to fund homelessness services, and Proposition I, an increase in the real estate transfer tax passed in 2020 in part to support landlords who waived the rent payments of coronavirus-affected tenants.

Rent-relief funds for San Francisco may increase as the state reallocates money from counties where demand for financial aid has been low, said state spokesman Russ Heimerich in October. He could not specify how much more money San Francisco might receive, or when, and has not replied to subsequent requests for updates.

Heimerich also said that an exact count of total requested financial aid was unavailable. The city and state ran parallel rent-relief programs until early September, when the local program began winding down. By late October, staffers were transitioning applications from the local to the state program and that process affected the running tally.

We’ll publish updates from Heimerich as we receive them.

Rent debt in San Francisco stood between $147 million and $355 million in June, according to the most recent estimate 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.

San Francisco residents should apply to the state’s program if they owe money for rent or other housing bills that were due in or after April 2020. They can also request financial aid for future housing costs.

The statewide eviction moratorium, protecting tenants who could not pay rent because of COVID-19 hardship, was originally scheduled to end Jan. 31, but lawmakers extended it twice. Following its final end date, Sept. 30, San Francisco tenants became vulnerable to eviction if they had not paid at least 25% of the rents due in the preceding 13 months, as well as October’s rent. State regulations say that courts should not move forward with an eviction lawsuit unless the landlord has applied for rent assistance and either the application has been denied, or the tenant has neglected to complete their portion of it within 15 business days.

Starting last month, 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 [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.

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.