Back rent is piling up under the eviction moratorium, so the Board voted Tuesday that the city would pay between 50-65% of it for qualifying tenants and landlords.
We know things are bad for unemployed renters and their landlords with bills piling up under the pandemic, but we didn’t realize how bad until this week. The Examiner reported Monday on a non-partisan Budget and Legislative Analyst report which estimated that each month under the eviction moratorium, unpaid San Francisco rent was piling up to the tune of “$13.6 million to $32.7 million per month,” and over the course thus far of the pandemic, “this equates to between $81.3 million and $196.2 million.”
A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has gone unpaid due to COVID-19 estimates it could be as much as $32.7 million a month. https://t.co/KZ2r4GEwsr— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) October 27, 2020
With employment not exactly rebounding, who’s going to pay this? The city of San Francisco might pay much of this, as KRON4 reports that on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a Rent Resolution and Relief Fund that would cover up to 65% of the rent still owed.
“We are providing a roadmap for recovery, and that means making sure renters and small landlords are not left out in the cold if tenants can’t pay rent because of COVID,” the resolution's author, supervisor Dean Preston said in a statement to SFist. “San Franciscans have a choice: leave vulnerable tenants saddled by rent debt and small property owners at risk of default, or slightly increase taxes on billionaire real estate investors to help pay for our recovery efforts.”
The fund does not pay all back rent unconditionally. According to the text of the measure, it does “provide grants to landlords who have agreed to waive back rent that became due during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The grants shall cover up to 50% of the rent that the landlord has waived, up to $3,000 per unit per month. In the case of small landlords facing hardship, the grant may exceed $3,000 per month and may cover up to 65% of the rent that the landlord has waived.”
But hold the phone —the funding is contingent on the passage of the November San Francisco ballot measure Prop. I, which would double real estate taxes on transactions of $10 million or more. Without Prop. I’s passage, these reimbursements likely do not occur. And we should stress again that the landlord receives the grant, not the tenant.
If you can’t pay the November 1 rent looming on Sunday, you still need to make arrangements regardless of this measure. For starters, the measure has not actually “passed” the board; despite the unanimous vote, it still hasn’t technically been passed until a second-reading vote (likely Tuesday Nov. 3, and yes, that Tuesday Nov. 3.) And as stated earlier, the funding for the measure depends on the passage of Prop. I, and still needs to go for Mayor Breed’s signature.
But it’s a plan when many renters are still feeling pretty deer-in-the-headlights with the pandemic situation, and Preston’s office calls it a “a first-in-the-nation program,” and it could provide a model for other cities.
Image: @chrislawton via Unsplash