Health Department agrees to reduce rents for many residents at city-funded supportive housing sites

By Bay City News

By Bay City News

Following pleas from housing advocates to reduce rents for people living in city-funded permanent supportive housing sites, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced it has agreed to implement the change.

Back in January 2021, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation requiring the rent for all supportive housing be capped at 30 percent of a renter’s income. As part of the legislation, funding was set aside to pay for the program.

Supportive housing combines coordinated services with affordable housing for people who suffer from mental or physical health issues.

According to the #30RightNow Coalition, although the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing implemented the new law, the Department of Public Health had not, resulting in some tenants at supportive housing sites having to spend 70 percent of their incomes on rent.

“It is beyond the pale that, after we scored a major funding victory, we have to organize again because the Department of Public Health is stalling on implementation,” said Jordan Davis, founder of #30RightNow Coalition, in a statement last week.

“This is a disability rights issue. This is an eviction prevention issue. Many of our neighbors and siblings are starving, and they should not continue to suffer because their supportive housing happens to be under a different department,” she said.

On Monday, SFDPH officials announced that it will implement the maximum 30 percent of income for rent at all SFDPH funded permanent supportive housing sites.

“DPH provides funding for a small number of housing providers, and permanent supportive housing is largely operated by the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing,” SFDPH officials said. “DPH will reduce the rental cost burden for residents of DPH funded permanent supportive housing pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. In alignment with HSH’s implementation of this policy, DPH is working with contracted providers on implementation starting this fiscal year.”

The change will affect some 250 tenants living at supportive housing sites funded by SFDPH, health department officials said.

Davis called the announcement a victory.

“It is very unlikely at this point that there are any other departments that have supportive housing in which tenants are severely rent burdened. So we can finally wrap up this campaign on a city level,” she said.

However, Davis added, “I don’t want to dissolve the infrastructure we created in terms of activism, and we want to advocate for supportive housing tenants in other ways, because there are a lot of issues that need attention.”

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