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News + PoliticsHousingHelp is on the way -- but many tenants don't know about...

Help is on the way — but many tenants don’t know about it

Phone bank seeks to find people eligible for rent relief who may not know it's available or how to apply. Here's how to join.

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Significant numbers of people in San Francisco – and presumably all over the state – are behind on their rent or mortgages but don’t know that there’s help available.

That’s what Daybreak PAC found after phone-banking to vulnerable communities in the city.

Jackie Fielder explains how to help find people who need eviction protection.

Jackie Fielder, who founded the PAC, said at a press conference today that volunteers doing outreach in Districts 5, 10, and 11 found that 23 percent of the people they reached were behind on their rent or mortgages.

“And all but one were unaware of state and local programs” that could help, she said. (Here is a link to California info and here is a link to San Francisco info.)

In fact, 25 percent didn’t have a computer, and would have a hard time accessing the portals that could help them get the money that has been set aside to help them.

The Daybreak PAC is now working with Open Door Legal and the office of Sup. Shamann Walton to find people who are eligible for public assistance but may not know about it.

Sup. Dean Preston has managed to extend the city’s eviction moratorium until the end of this year, and is calling on Mayor London Breed to use Prop. I money to help tenants pay back rent until the federal money becomes available.

That could be a little while: Adrian Tirtanadi of Open Door Legal said that there are 32,000 tenants in the city behind on their rent – and “less than one tenth of one percent of the federal relief money has been distributed.”

In fact, as of May 13, not one penny of rent-relief money had arrived in San Francisco.

In part that’s because the applications are online – and Fielder said that 25 percent of the people her PAC contacted didn’t have a computer.

Also, Tirtanadi said, “some landlords will forego the relief money [which requires landlords to accept less than 100 percent of rent] to get rid of their tenants” who may be under rent control.

And that’s just one part of the eviction tsunami that could be on its way: Foreclosures will “easily increase by five times” when federal protections expire at the end of this month, Tirtanadi said.

If you want to volunteer to join the phone banks and let tenants know about their rights and how they can get help, you can sign up here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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