More than two years since a fire at 22nd and Mission streets claimed one life and displaced dozens of tenants, Supervisor Hillary Ronen plans to propose legislation on Tuesday to extend assistance to displaced tenants.
For some, their two-year relocation rentals will expire at the end of the month.
Ronen’s proposal would extend the time period in which victims can get rent assistance in interim housing to four years, provided that the victims have met certain requirements.
These include making less than 70 percent of the area median income, demonstrating that they have applied for permanent below-market-rate housing through the Mayor’s Office and that their previous apartment remains unavailable.
The latter will be easy to fulfill. The building at 22nd Street was demolished to street level and remains a pit in the ground.
“The legislation is meant to address the situation in terms of the 22nd and Mission fire, but it reflects the reality of any working-class person that is displaced from housing in San Francisco,” Ronen said. “Finding replacement housing, even with city assistance, takes a long time.”
Recent months have held some displaced tenants in suspense, as a solution had not yet materialized and they faced expiring leases at the end of the month.
The city was able to put up most of the displaced from the 2015 fire in apartments on Treasure Island and recently extended their leases there for another year.
Others, however, are running out of time. Some have been housed under the Good Samaritan law in which landlords offer units at below market rates for a maximum of two years. Others housed at Parkmerced using city rental subsidies were also about to lose their rental assistance at the end of the month. Ronen’s legislation would give them more time.
While only a handful of those displaced from the 22nd Street fire are using subsidies or the Good Samaritan program including four tenants at Parkmerced, the change would apply to all fire victims receiving city assistance of this kind.
That includes those displaced by the fire at 29th and Mission streets last June, who have also not been able to return to their units while the building awaits renovation and is being marketed for sale.
Making the money accessible is just one of several steps needed to keep the tenants whose time is up in place, said Gabriel Medina of the Mission Economic Development Agency, who has been working with displaced tenants. The leases, too, will need to be worked out for an extension.
Beyond that, Medina says he is hoping the city will be able to incentivize landlords to make repairs to seriously damaged units much faster.
“There’s a lot to call for as far as landlords restoring their buildings in a timely fashion,” he said.