SAN FRANCISCO — City officials in San Francisco are considering extending eviction protections that were put in place during COVID-19 indefinitely.
There is a growing concern that once the shelter-in-place order is lifted, thousands of tenants will be evicted from their homes. Eviction protections that were put in place during COVID-19 only last through July 28th in California.
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Supervisor Dean Preston wants to make those protections permanent in San Francisco.
“I mean it’s not even a question there will be a huge number of evictions in San Francisco if we don’t pass permanent protections,” Preston said.
Preston is introducing legislation next week that will make it illegal for landlords to evict people like who might have had to stop paying rent due to COVID-19.
“The reality in San Francisco is we have a lot of folks who are living in rent-controlled units who are paying less than the market rate. And some unscrupulous landlords are looking for reasons to get them out,” Preston said.
For the past two years, Hirving Chan was working as a cook at Whitechapel, a gin bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Back in March, Chan was laid off. Now he and his four roommates who share a studio are stuck at home wondering when the rent will catch up with them.
“For me it’s hard, because I don’t have a job, now I’m trying to pay rent. It’s crazy,” Chan said. “If this continues like this, maybe one more month and that’s it.”
Chan is not a U.S. citizen, so he doesn’t qualify for unemployment. He was able to pay April and May’s rent thanks to a donation from a local charity.
“If we didn’t have that, I don’t know what would happen to us,” he said.
“The landlords are making money and have been for years, as have I. So it’s our duty I think to give back now,” said Bay Area landlord Spike Kahn said.
Kahn rents space to artists and manages a handful of properties in Oakland and San Francisco. She’s letting several unemployed tenants forgo rent and is encouraging other landlords to do the same.
“Now we’re in a crisis and I can definitely better shoulder that burden to help out the tenants than can the tenants, who are all of a sudden out of work and have no income,” Khan said.
Preston’s ordinance doesn’t cancel rent; it just prevents landlords from tacking on late fees or evicting people who have had debt pile up from being unable to pay. And it would do so indefinitely.
Oakland already has a law like this on the books. Preston’s ordinance goes before the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday.