SF Supervisors Call for Ban on Evictions During Coronavirus Outbreak

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Several San Francisco city supervisors proposed a package of measures Tuesday, including banning evictions during the current public health crisis and creating an emergency fund for small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco leaders announced a package of legislation on Tuesday aimed at cushioning the impact of coronavirus on the city's residents. As large gatherings and events have been canceled and people are urged to practice social distancing, several of the city’s supervisors sought to address the impact of the current public health crisis especially on temporary, lower-wage and service workers, and on small businesses.

“We know that as a result of the state of emergency and government-recommended precautions, that many folks have been experiencing income loss in the city and that further income loss is anticipated,” said Supervisor Dean Preston at a press conference Tuesday in front of City Hall.

Preston announced legislation to prohibit landlords from evicting tenants for failing to pay rent if tenants could show that their inability to pay is related to the current state of emergency surrounding the coronavirus.

"This is a public health crisis and we need to make sure that it doesn’t create a whole new housing crisis in the upcoming weeks," Preston said. "We know that so many San Franciscans – especially those who are working class or communities of color – will be hit especially hard by losing income during this period. We need to make sure that they don’t also lose their housing."

Supervisor Gordon Mar said he will propose legislation to create a new category of sick leave to be used during public health crises, so that workers would have greater flexibility in taking time off should they get sick or need to care for others who are sick.

"No one should have to choose between their health and their job," Mar said.

Mar is also proposing the creation of a multilingual hotline that workers can call with questions about their rights.

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Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Ahsha Safaí and Matt Haney previewed additional measures they plan to propose, including a resolution calling on banks to suspend foreclosures, fees and penalties to small businesses and the creation of low-interest loans or emergency funds for small businesses and individuals who are suffering from loss of income during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the California Department of Public Health have issued recommendations to slow the spread of the coronavirus that include limiting outings for vulnerable populations, reducing work-related travel, encouraging telecommuting and canceling or postponing gatherings and events.

“To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we need to make sure that people can realistically follow the city’s health guidelines,” said Ronen, whose proposal would direct the city treasurer to take out a line of credit of at least $20 million to aid small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

"I’m united, as we all are, in telling the residents of our city that we have your back," said Haney in his remarks. "We are going to fight for you."