On Friday, dozens of community organizers, educators, and activists stood outside City Hall to call for more support of San Francisco's immigrant communities amid the pandemic, specifically demanding increased rent relief for members of those cohorts.
In one way or another, everyone's been affected COVID-19 — though it must be said that BIPOC and immigrant communities continue to suffer the most. A recent joint study by UCSF, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (CZ Biohub), and the Latino Task Force (LTF) showed Latinx community members in San Francisco are some five-times more likely to contract coronavirus than white San Franciscans. This is especially true of low-income workers in these communities, who were among the hardest hit by the fall and winter COVID-19 surges.
I’m going to watch this money like a hawk and am ready to introduce a budget supplemental to make sure no one is ever left behind again. Low income essential workers may not all have the privilege of staying at home, but they should have the #RighttoRecover. https://t.co/vrT8LfDamh— Hillary Ronen (@HillaryRonen) February 12, 2021
To both shed light on the issue and call for more City aid, demonstrators descended outside City Hall Friday afternoon to demand change; District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen and representatives of District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton and District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston were also in attendance.
“[Immigrants are] suffering not only in terms of illness or death but in economic insecurity, job loss and increasing rent debt,” said demonstration attendee Rev. John Kirkley of St. James Episcopal Church — who added that the city's response to supporting low-income immigrant families has been lacking — per Mission Local. “We are concerned especially that many of our most vulnerable neighbors will be at risk of homelessness due to eviction.”
The ralliers most prominent demand yesterday was for San Francisco to bolster rent relief, which included eliminating the requirement to pay back 25% of back rent and full rent whenever the moratorium ends, permanently fund the Right to Recover program — a City-supported fund that offers resources to help COVID-19-positive San Franciscans who need financial assistance; the program has been in danger of running dry multiple times since August of 2020 — and to change the City’s rent relief application requirements to only require an ID and landlord related documents.
Other City programs and nonprofit aid efforts have also helped buoy San Franciscans through mounding unpaid rent since the pandemic began.
Give2SF, the fund Salesforce gave $1.5M toward back in March of last year, is a City relief program that welcomes individual contributions and has since helped at least 1,443 out of the 9,000 applicants receive an average of about $4,000 in aid; the Right to Recover fund has given $10.9M in total relief to over 3,200 San Franciscans. Nonprofit organizations like the Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund (QNF) and Family Eviction Prevention Collaborative (FEPCO) — a partner of Catholic Charities — have helped fill in some of those gaps with installment grants to help approved applicants pay back due rent.
But it's still not enough. And Ronen appears to agree.
"We're going to work hard to find and follow your demands," the district supervisor said to the crowd. That same day, Ronen and fellow supervisors Walton and Matt Haney announced a $125M budget surplus for this fiscal year that would support housing stabilization and fund the Right to Recover program.
Image: Getty Images/elf0724