Vision Zero Displacement

Information and Resources if you are behind on your rent or mortgage due to Covid-19

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Have a question about your rights? If you live in Districts 5, 10, or 11 in San Francisco, you can click on the button below to request a consultation with an attorney from Open Door Legal

End of the Eviction Moratorium

On July 1st, 2021 the current moratoriums on evictions are set to expire. Certain protections will be extended, however. Tenants cannot be evicted for rent that was due between March 1, 2020, and August 30, 2020, as this rent will be converted to consumer debt. If a tenant owes back rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID, and is able to pay 25% of their back rent from September 1, 2020, through June 31, 2021 by July 1st, they will be protected from eviction. The remaining debt will be converted into consumer debt. 

If your landlord attempts to evict you despite these protections, Open Door Legal can defend you. Note: if you are served with a summons and complaint, you should seek out help immediately, as you only have 5 business days to file an answer.

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Statewide Eviction Protections

California recently extended statewide eviction protections through September 30, 2021 for tenants who cannot pay rent due to financial hardships caused by COVID-19. This means that qualifying tenants cannot be evicted until at least October 1, 2021. Qualifying tenants cannot be evicted for rent that was due between March 1, 2020, and August 30, 2020, as this rent will be converted to consumer debt. Qualifying tenants cannot be evicted for rent that was due between September 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021, so long as they pay at least 25% of this rent by October 1, 2021, and the remaining rent will be converted into consumer debt. Consumer debt means that you still owe any unpaid rent to your landlord, even if you cannot be evicted for it.

To qualify for these protections, you need to provide your landlord with a Declaration of COVID-19-Related Financial Distress in response to a notice to pay rent or quit.

If your landlord attempts to evict you despite these protections, Open Door Legal can defend you. Note: if you are served with a summons and complaint, you should seek legal help immediately, as you only have 5 business days to file an answer.

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Rental Relief

Rental assistance is available for those who owe back rent due to COVID. San Francisco residents have access to both the California statewide program and a San Francisco specific program. With the recent passage of state law AB 832, eligible households approved for the California program can receive up to 100% of unpaid rent accumulated from April 2020 onward. AB 832 also approved funding for 100% of prospective monthly rent while eviction protections are in place and while funding is still available. San Francisco’s rental assistance program can cover rent for up to 6 months for the months of April 2021 onward, but is being prioritized for certain populations. 

You can also apply online to the state program at https://housing.ca.gov/
You can also apply online to the local program at https://sf.gov/renthelp

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Application Assistance

Open Door Legal is also offering drop-in hours to assist with completing the state and local applications during the following times:

Excelsior –  Tues 10-12pm (Cantonese, Spanish)
Bayview – Weds 1-3pm (Spanish)
Western Addition – Thurs 10-12pm

You need to bring in the following items to complete your application: 

  • Identification documents for all household members over 18
  • Income information for all members over 18
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of rent owed or utilities owed
  • Proof of loss of income (ex. Covid declaration, job loss letter, filing/receipt of UI

Note: Documentation isn’t required to apply for the local program, but will be required later if your application is approved for assistance.

You can also apply online to the state program at https://housing.ca.gov/,
You can also apply online to the local program at https://sf.gov/renthelp

The following organizations also provide assistance for both state and local applications:

  • Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinese)
    • Location: Chinatown CDC, 663 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
    • 415-984-2730. Leave your name, phone number and a counselor will return your call. Drop-in clinic Mondays from 2-4pm & Thursdays 10:30am-2:30pm
  • Mission Economic Development Agency/MEDA (Spanish) 
    • MEDA’s COVID-19 Community Intake Line: (415) 612-2014 x 2 – Applying for affordable housing

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Consumer Defense & Small Claims

If your outstanding back rent has been converted into consumer debt, your landlord may still attempt to collect it by suing you. If the total owed is below $10,000, you may be sued in small claims court, which has simplified procedures. If the total owed is above $10,000, you may be sued in civil court. If you are sued, Open Door Legal may be able to defend you.

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Foreclosures

If you are behind in your mortgage or HOA dues in an owner-occupied home due to the pandemic, limited relief may be available. The San Francisco Housing Development can help you apply for programs that may pay any of your past due balances. Long-term residents of D10 may also be eligible for increased assistance. To talk to SFHDC financial empowerment counselor, call (415) 822-1022 and leave your name, best phone contact number, and email address and someone will get back to you within 24 hours to have you fill out an intake. You can also email fecstaff@sfhdc.org and write your name, your issue, and best phone contact number. All services with SFHDC are online at this time, but if you need help accessing a computer Open Door Legal can help. 

Your bank may begin the foreclosure process as soon as July and may conclude a sale as soon as October. You can lose all your equity in a foreclosure sale, so it is imperative that you seek out help as soon as possible. If your home has already been sold, Open Door Legal may be able to file a wrongful foreclosure suit on your behalf.

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Bankruptcy

In the end, if you are unable to pay back rent or past due mortgages, bankruptcy may be a good option. Bankruptcy can eliminate your debts while preserving your housing, but it also harms your credit score. With counseling, however, your credit can be rehabilitated within two years. Open Door Legal may be able to file bankruptcy on your behalf or refer you to a bankruptcy attorney.

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*Please note: The following information is not legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and Open Door Legal.

CITATIONS

1. American University, Key Studies and Data About How Legal Aid Improves Housing Outcomes https://www.american.edu/spa/jpo/toolkit/upload/housing-7-30-19.pdf

2. George Washington Law School, In Pursuit of Justice? Case Outcomes and the Delivery of Unbundled Legal Services https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi

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Ever since childhood, our co-founder Adrian has been dedicated to reducing poverty.

He studied systemic poverty in college and went to work in the field for a few years. Eventually, he had a thesis that legal aid was the most cost-effective way to address poverty in America. He wrote up a business plan and used it to apply to law school. 

The idea was to create the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation that ensures everyone can obtain timely, competent legal help for any legal issue, regardless of ability to pay. That had never been done before in the history of the United States.

In law school, he met Virginia, our Programs Director. Together, they co-founded the organization, two weeks after Adrian passed the bar.

When we opened we put a sign in the window, and with just that marketing and almost no other outreach we were overwhelmed with requests for help from people with good cases who had been turned away everywhere else.

Our first year we had revenue of $35,000. We would hand shred documents because a shredder was too expensive. Despite the financial challenges, we were able to work on over 280 cases in everything from housing law to family law to consumer law in the first year alone.

The hours were extreme, the pay was low, and the learning curve was steep. Still, we persisted. We knew that almost everyone we helped was not able to receive services anywhere else. Eventually, we attracted the interest of funders. We tripled our revenue for several years in a row. In 2015, we won the Bay Area Google Impact Challenge, which enabled us to expand even more. In 2019, we secured additional funding from the city that allowed us to open two new centers in the Excelsior and Western Addition.

As of 2020, our staff has grown to 27 full-time employees. We’ve shown that universal access is possible. Now, we plan to scale city-wide, make San Francisco the first city in the country’s history to have universal access to legal help, and become a model for national replication.

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