Keeshemah Johnson rushed her partner to the emergency room last summer. Maurice Austin had lost his appetite and wasn’t getting out of bed much. Then he started struggling to breathe. He tested positive for Covid-19 in the emergency room.
Austin died on Aug. 1, 2020, less than a week after Johnson took him to the hospital.
Within days, Johnson said, their landlord began pressuring her to leave. On Sept. 15, she received an eviction notice, stating that she had five days to move out of their Hunters Point apartment. The couple had never added Johnson’s name to the lease — a fact the property owner cited to claim that Johnson and her stepson were illegally squatting in the home they shared with Austin.
“He wasn’t even in the ground yet before they were expecting us to vacate the apartment,” Johnson said.
Johnson is among hundreds of San Francisco renters whose landlords have tried to force them from their homes in the midst of a global pandemic. A San Francisco Public Press analysis of the city’s Rent Board data found that from March 1 through Dec. 31, 2019, landlords filed 1,226 eviction notices; during the same period in 2020, landlords filed 535 notices, even as city, state and federal moratoriums on pandemic-related evictions remain in effect. READ MORE