Low-income tenants in San Francisco who were most impacted by economic shutdowns in the last year are getting another reprieve from the Board of Supervisors — and for those who owe back rent, it may be just a matter of weeks before their landlords get paid.
Both the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and California state legislators are in the process of administering federal stimulus funds for rent relief. And while the distribution of those funds gets agreed upon and underway, San Francisco is extending the moratorium on residential evictions citywide until December 31.
As the Chronicle reports, the SF Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on the extension on its first reading today, and it is all but guaranteed to pass its second vote. The extension means that the moratorium that was already extended through June 30 will go through the end of the year, and those in danger of eviction due to back rent due will have more time to get that rent paid — and/or to see their landlords get paid out by a state rent relief bill that is still working its way through the legislature.
That bill is one of the most ambitious programs of its kind ever undertaken, as the New York Times reported Monday. Thanks to a budget surplus and the influx of federal money, California is set to spend $5.2 billion to make sure all back rent is paid for low-income tenants, and another $2 billion to pay utility and water bills for those who are behind as well. The state's eviction moratorium is still set to expire on June 30, and tenant advocates have been sounding alarm bells about a potential massive wave of homelessness while some tenants wait for this state program to kick into gear.
The program is coming out of an amendment to Senate Bill 91, which Newsom already signed in January and which set up the rent-relief program.
As the SF Business Times explains, landlords are already able to apply to be paid 80% of back rent owed to them so long as they agreed to forgive the other 20%. But the amendment will make sure that 100% of rent is paid. Legislators are also working on extending the state's eviction moratorium either until September 30 or December 31.
While there is not hard data to say for certain whether $5.2 billion will cover all the back rent owed by low-income tenants statewide, Newsom's team believes it will be sufficient.
The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development is also in the process of distributing $90 million in federal rent relief funds, but as the Chronicle reports, there has been no publicized tally of how many renters have been assisted so far. The amount of back rent owed citywide is believed to be much higher than that. The department is expected to present the program results to a Board of Supervisors committee on Wednesday.
There has been some of the familiar squabbling between the Board, name Supervisor Dean Preston, and the mayor, over whether to allocate more city funds to the rent relief program, but if the state comes through perhaps that will be moot.
Also on Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to extend its eviction moratorium for unincorporated areas of the county through September, something that Marin County has already done.
Photo: Mary Hammel