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A $32 Million Victory
In the San Francisco City Budget!
Faith in Action Bay Area leaders of San Francisco urge Supervisors to keep their promise to fund local rent relief
For the past year, Faith in Action Bay Area leaders in San Francisco have been fighting to ensure that our Sanctuary City lives up to its name and provides rent relief for everyone who lost their jobs during the pandemic. Last week those efforts paid off in a huge win, as the Board of Supervisors increased the rent debt relief funds in the 2021-22 city budget from zero to $32 million! 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic devastation for hotel and restaurant workers, house and office cleaners, and many other San Franciscans, the vast majority of whom are immigrants. And while the state has provided San Francisco with $90 million in rent relief funds, the City’s estimate of the actual outstanding rent debt ranges from $147 million to $335 million— so there is a clear need to add funds. 

In November, San Francisco voters approved Proposition I, which was designed to add these local rent relief funds. Faith in Action leaders had made several thousand phone calls to voters in October and knew that there was broad support for this local measure, which increased the real estate transfer tax in order to provide rent relief and funding for affordable “social housing.”

But the Mayor’s proposed 2021-22 budget included zero dollars for COVID rent relief, and two weeks ago, even some Supervisors who had supported Prop I seemed to be backing off from their commitment to local rent relief funds.

Faith in Action leaders were quick to action, meeting with five Supervisors and staff and organizing an email campaign targeting all Supervisors. Within days, the Supervisors negotiated with the Mayor to increase the amount budgeted for COVID-19 rent relief from zero to $32 million— an 30% increase on the state funds that will protect thousands of San Francisco families from eviction this fall.
 
The San Francisco leaders are grateful to everyone who sent emails or made calls as part of this year-long campaign. We should all be proud that we are holding our public officials accountable and protecting our most vulnerable neighbors.

And the fight will continue: Now we must ensure that the Mayor’s Office of Housing actually distributes the rent relief funds to everyone who needs them before the eviction moratorium expires on September 30. We also learned that many Supervisors are lukewarm about their commitment to the “social housing” portion of Proposition I, which is one of the few long-term solutions to San Francisco’s housing crisis. As we emerge from the pandemic, we hope you will join us in moving our collective power to ensure that our city and region becomes a place where everyone has access to a safe, dignified, and truly affordable home.
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