Jordan Davis went on a 17-day hunger strike to push for caps on rent charged to low-income residents of city-subsidized SROs. (Lola Chase/ Special to SF Examiner)

SRO activist ends hunger strike over rent caps for low-income residents

Budget deal approved Wednesday includes $1M to help those paying more than half their income on rent

A Single Room Occupancy hotel tenant who starved herself to advocate for rent relief has ended her hunger strike after 21 days.

Jordan Davis, a member of San Francisco’s SRO Task Force who is formerly homeless, launched the hunger strike as a way to call for city leaders to set aside funding in next year’s proposed $12.3 million budget to uniformly cap rents at city-leased SROS at 30 percent of tenants’ incomes. Many low-income tenants like Davis pay more than half of their earnings on rent.

In a budget deal reached late Wednesday night, $1 million was dedicated to the “Economic Hardship Fund for Masterlease Tenants.” The funding was significantly less than the $7.5 million District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney had requested earlier this month to close the gap.

“It’s a start – we will need to get more to address the excessive rent burden for all 3,000 people,” said Haney, referring to the number of people currently estimated to be living in master lease hotels who are charged up to half of their income for rent by The City. “I’m committed to doing that. I’m happy that this need was recognized and supported by my colleagues.”

Davis advocated for lower rents for an estimated 1,000 people living in Department of Public Health operated housing, 1,000 living in “Care Not Cash” buildings and 1,000 SRO tenants such as herself.

It is still unclear how the rent relief funding, which is sourced from a property tax windfall the City received last year called ERAF revenue, will be allocated, according to Haney. He estimates that the $1 million that was earmarked could provide relief for about 500 tenants.

The full board is expected to vote on the budget proposal on July 16.

Davis told the San Francisco Examiner previously that the lack of a rent cap for tenants like herself causes already vulnerable San Franciscans additional hardship.

Officially ending her more than two-weeks long hunger strike on Thursday, Davis said she faced an “uphill battle with no organizational support.”

No matter, she said that she is “happy to get a year-long pilot program in a few hotels while we work to make the 30 percent standard permanent.”

Haney said that he hopes to make the initial ERAF funding “part of a plan to address the rent burden for all master lease tenants over the next two years.”

Lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to show that Davis was on her hunger strike for 21 days and not 17 as initially reported.

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