According to the City of San Francisco, 1,881 people received notices of evictions back in 2016-2017 (1). With the newly passed Proposition F, all 1,881 would be provided lawyers by the City.
What is Prop. F and to Whom Does it Apply?
Proposition F is a recent San Francisco proposal that requires the city to establish a program which provides full legal representation for all city tenants that are facing eviction. These tenants would be given legal representation within 30 days of them receiving an eviction notice or in the case of an unlawful detainer complaint– such as the case of a tenant overstaying a lease. This would apply to all tenants except for those residing in the same unit as the landlord, as well as non-residential tenants, such as subletters.
While the city of San Francisco has provided free legal representation to tenants before, only a limited number of tenants could receive legal services. Factors such as health, income and age determined which tenants received legal representation. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) and non-profit community organizations provided tenant education, counseling, and other eviction-related services.
How Much Will It Cost?
According to Ben Rosenfield, the San Francisco City Controller, the cost would be “between approximately $4.2 million and approximately $5.6 million annually. This amount would be likely to grow in future years” (2). The city already spends $2 million annually (3) on eviction-related legal representation already, which does not include the $200,000 spending increase by the MOHCD in order to increase staffing for Prop. F. Despite these numbers, some supporters of the law claim that it will decrease homelessness, leading to a decrease in expenses for taxpayers.
What are the Issues with Prop. F?
Proposition F itself did not state any source of funding for the eviction-related program when it was put on the ballot. While it has passed, there is still no explanation as to how Prop. F will be funded. One assumption is the responsibility will fall on taxpayers, which could potentially entail an increase in taxes. The city has to determine the total cost of the program when they begin the budget process before resolving the issue.
Certain opponents of Prop. F as well as the San Francisco Chronicle additionally point out that Prop. F does not differentiate between income classes; individuals who could afford to hire a private attorney would still be provided with one in the case of eviction. If this remains unchanged, the budget will have to be higher, potentially burdening the taxpayers even more.
When Does Proposition F Become Effective?
While any proposition becomes effective 12 months after it has passed, this cannot force the Mayor nor the Board of Supervisors to provide the funds necessary to implement the program. Because of this, it is unclear as to when Prop. F actually will come into effect.
How Does This Affect Me?
Prop. F would directly influence anyone who is evicted in the city of San Francisco by changing the process of eviction. It would also indirectly affect every taxpayer whose money would go towards funding the program.