The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to extend the city’s eviction moratorium, which otherwise would have expired at the end of June, for an additional two months.
The emergency ordinance, which passed on Tuesday night, bans evictions for renters who are unable to make payments because of COVID-19. It also comes in advance of a potential moratorium extension at the state level, which will likely be decided on next week as part of the state’s budget process.
“Help is on the way, between the state program through [California Senate Bill 91] and our recently launched local rent relief program,” said Supervisor Dean Preston, who introduced the ordinance alongside several other colleagues. “The problem is very little of it has gone out the door, if any, so we find ourselves on the brink of an eviction cliff.”
The emergency extension is one of a few measures, enacted at either the local or state levels, intended to shore up renters who are either out of a job or who have accrued rental debt during the pandemic that they cannot pay in full.
Using federal dollars, San Francisco is making $90 million available to renters to pay debt accrued from April 2021 onward. Applications for that program just opened on May 28, however, and the funds will likely take a few weeks to reach people’s bank accounts.
At the state level, California has pledged $5.2 billion in total rent relief intended to cover March 2020 through March 2021, though recent figures show that relatively little has reached San Francisco residents so far. Russ Heimerich, a spokesperson for California’s rent relief program, told Here/Say that 2,690 San Francisco residents have requested about $38 million in state aid so far, and another 1,420 tenants and landlords are in the process of applying.
“San Francisco is just getting their program off the ground and without the program in full operation, it is difficult to determine the depth of need,” said Heimerich.
Policymakers are concerned that—owing in part to complexities in the application process—existing programs may leave some renters or landlords out, and the total funding currently allocated may fall short of need. The National Equity Atlas, a research firm, estimates that there are about 37,000 households in San Francisco with rent debt amounting to $178 million total.
The current rent relief programs also don’t cover individuals with “shadow debt,” or debt accumulated because they prioritized paying rent, perhaps using credit or savings, over other basic living expenses.
In the coming weeks, the Board of Supervisors will consider a second proposal that would extend the local eviction moratorium beyond the 60-day limit set forth in the emergency ordinance.
Annie Gaus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org