Free meals at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Photo by Andrea Valencia

Undocumented and low-income families in San Francisco with children under 18, who do not qualify for state and federal assistance, could receive $500 per month to help them weather the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus. 

Supervisor Shamann Walton proposed the measure Tuesday, just days after it became clear the federal government’s $2 trillion relief package, which would put $1,200 in the pockets of most Americans in the next few weeks, excluded undocumented immigrants and families with mixed statuses. 

“We know that this crisis has created a threat to the economic stability of San Francisco residents and several of our families, especially our immigrant families who work in the service industry such as restaurants, retail, cleaning-janitorial services,” Walton said. “And these families may not qualify for economic relief.” 

Walton said the package would be limited to 5,000 families over four months. If the crisis stretches past four months, more funds could be offered. The $500 per month could help these families at least get the essentials — food, rent, and everyday items — as many undocumented workers have no way of making money right now and cannot apply for unemployment insurance. 

The Human Rights Commission and other community organizations are currently working on the criteria for which families qualify. 

Walton said if all goes smoothly, the legislation could reach Mayor London Breed’s desk in the next three weeks. The relief could be distributed shortly after that. 

Many undocumented residents “are in dire straights,” said José-Luis Tekun Mejia of Coleman Advocates, a community organization that advocates for low-income families. “They’re trying to figure out what to do, as it is hitting the first of the month — rent is due, certain bills are due, and folks are really stressed out right now.” 

A $500 monthly payment is not nearly enough to replace the income loss of many undocumented families. Some advocates estimate that undocumented households are losing $800 to $1,500 per week during the crisis, with nowhere to find work. And there are an estimated 35,000 undocumented individuals living in San Francisco. 

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is co-sponsoring the legislation, said her office is working with workers rights organizations to assemble an additional fund for undocumented workers who are left out of unemployment insurance. “We realize we need a variety of assistance packages in order to get everyone through this crisis safely,” she said. 

Right now it’s unclear how much that fund could provide. 

Santiago Lerma, an aide to Ronen, told Mission Local on Monday that the supervisor’s office has worked to secure payments from the Mayor’s Office’s $5 million Give2SF Fund, which has received large private donations over the last several weeks.

If you are a regular reader – or simply want to support local news – Mission Local could use your help now. Thank you and be well. 

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. I completely support the idea, but I wonder if Mission Local can do an update because my friend who is undocumented called the Catholic Charities number many many times and never got an answer. She heard on Spanish radio that people are calling 100 times without an answer. I’m not sure the funds are being disbursed!

  2. These people are here illegally- putting enormous cost and strain on our public systems, generating barley 1/3 of their cost of being here. They work unskilled jobs and keep our wages low and non-union, they overcrowd our schools, and they overcrowd our emergency rooms. They are exploited by the rich. Either develop a path to citizenship or deport them- the system now is immoral, and giving them the tax revenue of legal Americans is unfair and misguided. What about the homeless on our streets and the feces on the sidewalks? Let’s take care of our own.

  3. As someone who actually lives in SF and is not a bitter 75 year old divorcee in North Dakota, I think this is a great idea. Bravo. Will vote for my supe again because of it. Again, because I actually live here and am not a sad bitter 58 year old work from home libertarian who hangs out in a local news site for a city I don’t live in.

  4. Preach, Teapotdame. Unfortunately, the current administration has failed to provide even those things that could be expected of a small federal government like recognizing a crisis when it occurs.

  5. Flight 505’s list is a great rebuttal to all those die-hard, trickle-down capitalists whose “small government” fanaticism seems to be unravelling during the covid crisis. Just months ago they were busy denouncing Anrew Yang’s proposal for a universal guaranteed income as ‘wacky fringe socialism’; now Mnuchin can’t crank out the stimulus checks fast enough. Reminds me of the classic New Yorker cartoon, showing a couple standing on the porch of a house that is engulfed in flames, waving down a fire truck that has just arrived on the scene. The caption reads: “No thanks. We’re Libertarians.”

  6. It’s BS that illegals will still get more than citizens. $500 a month and they think it’s not enough? But wait you think that the $1200 one time payment will be enough for all, US CITIZENS that have lost their jobs? I think not!!

    1. Exactly what I said they will be getting more
      Than us $500 a month for 4 months = $2500 . But they think that all US CITIZENS will do with a ONE TIME payment. I guess they have more bills to pay than we do, after they get EBT and welfare they will be just fine they already steal plenty from the government and still want more.

  7. Supervisor Shamann Walton and Ronen what about us Citizen reside ts with documents who do not qualify for unemployment, the stimulus check, and have no income now?

    It’s gut wrenching the lack of fairness and concern for us by those who support indentured servitude and fail fairness and merit.

    The subtle racism of low expectation and dereliction of duty is hurting ALL San Francisco residents. Shame on ya we’ll be voting again real soon.

    1. If you are looking to Shamann Walton or Hilary Ronen to care about anyone who can’t advance their own political visibility , you are going to be waiting forever. Hill and Shame don’t care about you. You have to accept it.

  8. Rather than giving people handouts, government should stop stealing from them in the form of taxes, fines, fees, and criminalization that eliminates work opportunities. It makes no sense to steal resources from someone with one hand and then turn around and give them assistance with the other. All it does is create needless overhead and busywork for people being paid at taxpayer expense.

    1. Right. The government is always – and only – needless overhead.

      I sure wish we didn’t have any government right now. If I could just tap into all the spare wealth I’d have if I had never had to pay any taxes or government imposed fees, I’d be able to do ALL of the following:

      Develop my own personal CDC and DPH so I know what I need to do to keep from getting sick (and who cares about the other people?)

      Be totally ready to buy/rent/hire all the things and people I will need to give my daughter a sixth grade education at home.

      Find a gig ambulance driver should I fall down the stairs and break my legs or start having breathing difficulties

      Keep from getting evicted should I be unable to pay my rent because some orange gasbag and his anti-tax cronies decided taking money away from public health was a good idea (to be fair, that disinvestment predates the Agent Orange’s time in the White House)

      Buy my own bus to keep parked out front so I could get around town without Muni

      Buy, develop and maintain my own multitude of parks so I can enjoy the outside RIGHT NOW because there wouldn’t be a government telling me not to …

      That’s a short list, but it’s a start. Others can chime in too.

      1. 100% agree, without the government stealing all our money we all could personally have created a vaccine by now., not waste time on stupid vaccine trials or testing.

      2. I think you missed the point. Good government of the people and for the people is a necessity. However, bad government and the government that exist today excludes many but includes corporations and rewards exploitation amongst other things. You’re correct in enlisting all those benefits to government but you missed the stark reality of the corruption currently existing in our government that protects asserts/profits rather than the lives of people in the majority.