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San Francisco to Distribute $90 Million in Rent Relief

City’s new Emergency Rental Assistance program, with funding from the U.S. Treasury will launch on May 28 and support vulnerable San Francisco tenants.

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By David Odisho: SAN FRANCISCO, CA / U.S. - MAY 1, 2020: Activists congregated outside of San Francisco’s City Hall on May Day rallying for the #CancelRent movement amid a crippled economy that has displaced many.

Mayor London N. Breed announced on Monday that the City’s new emergency rental assistance program will begin accepting applications on May 28. The City’s program is designed to keep tenants in their homes by leveraging existing eviction protections and maximizing prospective rental assistance.

San Francisco’s local program can provide up to six months of rental assistance including three months of future rent. The local program will prioritize the most vulnerable tenants using an evidence-based screening tool that considers a range of factors, such as past homelessness and extremely low household income. San Francisco’s program is in addition to the State’s rental assistance program, which will provide rental assistance for unpaid rents for the period of April 2020 to March 2021.

“This has been a year of challenges unlike anything we’ve faced before, and the economic fallout of the pandemic has been devastating for so many businesses and employees. This rent relief is critical to helping tenants and small property owners get back on their feet as we continue on with our economic recovery,” said Breed. “It’s absolutely crucial that we keep people in their homes, and this funding will help ensure that happens.”

The new rental assistance program is starting with a $26.2 million allocation from the U.S. Treasury, which will then be supplemented later this year by another round of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. Over $90 million has been allocated to San Francisco tenants and landlords from the federal government for rental assistance, with over $60 million in total being allocated to this new rental assistance program over two rounds of funding. The remaining $30 million in funding from the federal government is earmarked for San Franciscans in funding directed to the State of California.

“Under the historic American Rescue Plan, thousands of struggling San Franciscans will receive much-needed emergency rental assistance,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “By expanding and extending the vital Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the Democratic Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration are ensuring that struggling families continue to have a safe place to live during the pandemic. As House Speaker, I will continue to work hand-in-hand with Mayor Breed to ensure all San Franciscans have access to safe and affordable housing in our vibrant City.”

“San Francisco’s rent relief program will play a big part in keeping families secure in their homes,” said Assemblymember David Chiu. “However, these programs are only good if the public takes advantage of them. I encourage all renters who may be struggling with unpaid rent to apply for this assistance as soon as possible.”

The City is committed to ensuring that as many residents who need assistance receive assistance. However, applications will be prioritized from households who are most vulnerable to becoming unhoused due to certain economic and social factors.

In order for a tenant to be eligible to apply, they must have qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They must also demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and have a household income at or below 80% of area median income (AMI).

These limits are currently $102,450 for an individual and $146,350 for a family of four. However, the local program will prioritize applicants with very low (50% of AMI) and extremely low incomes (30% AMI). Applicants above 80% AMI will not be eligible for rental assistance through the City or State programs.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development is leading the implementation of the new rental assistance program in close partnership with a network of BIPOC-led, San Francisco-based, culturally competent community-based organizations. 

The City’s rental assistance program is part of a regional homelessness prevention initiative led by All Home. The multi-lingual, low-barrier application will be screened using an evidence-based tool developed in consultation with local and national experts, including UCSF School of Medicine’s Center for Vulnerable Populations, to ensure assistance is provided to the most vulnerable tenants.

Beginning Monday, tenants interested in applying can visit: sf.gov/renthelp to familiarize themselves with the program requirements before the application opens on May 28. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants will be required to provide documentation to verify identity, income, COVID-19 financial impact and unpaid rent. Since the program will be targeted to the most vulnerable tenants, rental assistance will not be first-come, first-serve. The City encourages tenants to apply on their own online if they are able. If tenants need help completing an application, a network of community-based partners are available to help. These community-based partners may be found at sf.gov/renthelp, by calling 311 or at www.sfadc.org.

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Bay Area

Board Bars Evictions Related to COVID-19

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

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The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.
The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.

Protections intended for those experiencing hardship because of pandemic

Courtesy of Marin County

Determined to prevent housing displacement for residents financially hampered by the ongoing pandemic, the Marin County Board of Supervisors took another action June 21 to prohibit residential renter evictions in unincorporated Marin effective July 1 through Sept. 30, 2022. The State of California’s eviction protections are scheduled to expire June 30.

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

The County is continuing to assist tenants who have applied for rental assistance and working with community partners to assure an equitable distribution of federal funds earmarked for eviction prevention. All renters have been protected by state or local laws, regardless of a person’s citizenship status, during the public health emergency. The County continues to process rental assistance applications as quickly as possible with added staff over the past year to accommodate assistance applications.

Rental assistance priority has been given to households that are considered extremely low income, which in Marin would be a family of three with an income of no more than $43,550. Nationally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are often at the highest risk of housing displacement. The County recognizes that those most in need of eviction protection experience barriers to access such a program. While more than two-thirds of non-Hispanic white residents are homeowners in Marin, roughly three-quarters of both Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities in Marin are renters.

Between state and federal funds, the County’s pandemic rental assistance program was awarded $36,414,871 of which $23,970,885 has been distributed to 1,260 local households in need. There is a remaining balance of $8,579,705, which will serve the remaining applicants and waiting list and is anticipated to be spent by September 30, 2022.

Clearing accumulated debt is designed to provide a lifeline to the hardest-hit families and provide income stability for landlords. Several local agencies, such as Canal Alliance, Community Action Marin, and North Marin Community Services, are assisting applicants with the process.

Property owners may call the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit at (415) 473-6450 for assistance on rights and responsibilities. Renters are encouraged to contact Legal Aid of Marin at (415) 492-0230, extension 102, for inquiries on eviction protections.

Anyone needing help with the online application may call (415) 473-2223 or email staff to learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. More information about the County’s eviction moratorium is on the County’s COVID-19 Renter Protections webpage.

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Bay Area

Marin Prepares to Vaccinate Young Children

Parents and guardians should contact their pediatrician to discuss appropriate timing to have their child vaccinated for COVID-19, especially if due for another routine pediatric vaccination. Children in their first 5 years are regularly visiting their pediatrician and vaccines are a routine part of these visits. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given in the same visit as the other important vaccines needed. MCPH will support pediatricians to ensure access to the vaccine over the coming weeks.

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Parents and guardians in Marin County will be able to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids 6 months to 4 years starting this week. (Copyright-free photo from Unsplash).
Parents and guardians in Marin County will be able to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids 6 months to 4 years starting this week. (Copyright-free photo from Unsplash).

New COVID-19 vaccine reduces risk in childcare and youth settings

Courtesy of Marin County

Now that federal and state regulators have approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years old, local pediatricians, health centers and Marin County Public Health (MCPH) are preparing to vaccinate the nearly 8,000 children in that age group who call Marin County home. Appointments are opening this week.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer. “Until now, 8,000 of our residents – everyone under 5 years – has been excluded from the protection of vaccines because they were too young. Vaccinations will make every setting where kids gather safer, for kids and adults. We’ll all be able to worry a lot less about childcare centers, playdates, parties, and summer camps.”

Community transmission rates in Marin and across the Bay Area remain high. Since the beginning of June, Marin children up to 4 years old have the highest rates of COVID-19 of any age group. Nationally, over 500 children aged 5 or younger have died from COVID-19, making the virus among the top 10 causes of death in children.

The two authorized vaccines are Moderna and Pfizer, offered in lower doses than for adults and older children. Moderna will be for children aged 6 months to 5 years, as two shots spaced one month apart. The Pfizer vaccine will be for children 6 months through 4 years, as three shots over 11 weeks, two within three weeks and a third eight weeks later. The three-dose Pfizer regimen was found to be 80% effective at preventing infection, roughly twice as effective as the Moderna vaccine.

One of the settings that will benefit most from pediatric COVID-19 vaccination is childcare. In Marin, over 80% of school-aged children 5-18 are fully vaccinated, after a dedicated countywide campaign to make schools safer through vaccinations.

“Our childcare providers have been heroes, taking care of our kids since the very beginning of the pandemic while knowing none of the children were vaccinated,” said Michelle Fadelli, Manager of Public Policy and Communications at First 5 Marin. “Now very young children will be safer in childcare, and their providers will be, too.”

ACCESSING THE VACCINE

Parents and guardians should contact their pediatrician to discuss appropriate timing to have their child vaccinated for COVID-19, especially if due for another routine pediatric vaccination. Children in their first 5 years are regularly visiting their pediatrician and vaccines are a routine part of these visits. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given in the same visit as the other important vaccines needed. MCPH will support pediatricians to ensure access to the vaccine over the coming weeks.

Kaiser Permanente, which is the primary medical provider for more than half of Marin households, will welcome children 6 months to 5 years old for COVID-19 vaccination starting Friday, June 24. Parents and guardians can book a vaccination appointment via Kaiser’s call center at (415) 444-4460. Walk-ins or drop-ins are not immediately available.

In addition, parents and guardians will be able to find appointments in a variety of settings – including pharmacies, pediatricians, and public health clinics – online via MyTurn.ca.gov. Select MCPH clinics will offer vaccines to infants and young children without a primary care physician beginning Thursday, June 23. Appointments can be made online via MyTurn and the ongoing schedule will be published at GetVaccinatedMarin.org.

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Bay Area

Oakland Mayor Greets Old Friend at Lakefest

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

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Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

At Oakland’s Third Annual LakeFest celebration on June 25, 2022, Oakland Post Ambassador Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones ran into longtime friend and supporter Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

As Schaaf exited the stage after making remarks at an event touting Oakland culture through music, dance, fashion, food and more, she greeted Jones by demonstrating his highly acclaimed “breathing aerobics” technique.

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

With over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field, Jones is a member of the African American Sports & Entertainment Group and creator of Breathing Aerobics, a health and wellness company that specializes in teaching specific breathing exercises to improve overall health. He has taught Breathing Aerobics on major television and radio stations, which has earned him the moniker, “Guru of Breathing.”

For more info on Breathing Aerobics go to www.breathingaerobics.com

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