Rent Relief

Here to Stay

Here to Stay
by Zeph Fishlyn for SFADC 2021

Are you behind on rent or utilities? There is help available.

Updated September 2021

You don’t have to move! If you can’t pay rent because of income loss or increased expenses due to the pandemic, there are emergency laws in place to protect you from eviction. Read more about your rights here, or call a tenant rights group for more information.

Emergency Rental Assistance funds are currently available to help cover COVID rent debt, utilities, and future rent payments. San Francisco rent relief applications are now being processed by the state program. You can apply online and get help with your application by visiting or by calling 833-687-0967.

Where can I get help with the application process?

Find a full list of local organizations available to help with the state’s application here. The following local organizations can help answer questions and explain the process, and some can offer in-person help filling out the applications:

  • Bill Sorro Housing Program (BiSHoP): 415-513-5177, Languages: English, Spanish, Arabic.
  • Chinatown Community Development Center: 415-984-2749. Languages: Cantonese and Mandarin.
  • Eviction Defense Collaborative’s RADCo Program: 415-470-5211, Call the intake line and leave a voicemail Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am – 12 pm and get a call back the same day. Walk-ins accepted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10-11:30am and 1-2:30pm at 1338 Mission Street. Thursday 11am-2pm at 701 Alabama Street by appointment only. Languages: English and Spanish any time, Arabic, Mandarin and Cantonese by appointment.
  • La Voz Latina/ Catholic Charities: in-person help at 456 Ellis, call 415-983-3970 or email to schedule an appointment. Languages: English, Spanish, Hindi.
  • SOMCAN: 415-552-5637, Languages: English, Filipino.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may be eligible if you have unpaid rent or utilities, AND have experienced financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic, AND have a household income that is at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).

The state program is now paying up to 100% of debt from April 2020 onward, and can pay up to 3 months of forward rent for a total of up to 18 months of assistance. If you got some help from the San Francisco city program while it was open, you can still apply to the state program for the remaining months of help up to 18 months total.

Eligible renters may also receive assistance for unpaid utility payments dating back to April 1, 2020, or for future utility payments, up to a total of 12 months, paid directly to the utility provider.

Under current state law (until March 2022), if you have applied for rent relief and are eligible for help, you have protections against eviction, even if you have not yet paid your back or current rent by the deadlines.

Beginning Oct 1, landlords may issue a 3-day notice to pay or quit for unpaid rent, but it must include language about how to apply for rent relief. You have 15 days to apply for help from the state program if you have not done so already, and should write a letter to your landlord informing them when you have done this. and instructing them to do so within 15 days.

Your landlord cannot proceed in the eviction process (get a summons for an Unlawful Detainer) without certifying to the court that they applied for rent relief and the application was denied or that they applied for rent relief and that they were not notified that you applied for relief within 15 days.

No.  You will not be asked about immigration status. Help from this program also does not qualify as a “public charge” that can affect those applying for a green card. Learn more about eligibility for various public programs based on immigration status here.

It is not necessary to have documents to prove income or expenses.  A tenant counselor can assist you with the appropriate forms.

Yes. The State Program has committed to working with subtenants even without the involvement of the master tenant.

Yes.  If you are separate financial households for other purposes (like filing taxes or applying for other benefits), then you can apply separately for rent relief as well.

You can apply and be eligible for rental assistance regardless of whether your housing was built with permits.  The information you provide will not be used for other purposes.

The State Rent Relief Program will help with future rent payments for eligible applicants even if you do not owe back rent.


Either the landlord or the tenant may start the process.  But ultimately tenants will need to complete their own application. Tenants do not have to provide their personal information/documents to the landlord because they can provide it directly to the program.

We know these programs are not enough, and too often work to subsidize a system that was already broken. Tenants, organized labor and other organizations across the state are fighting to extend eviction protections and expand the existing rent relief programs.  In addition, new federal relief funds should arrive in the coming months.  For updates follow us on Facebook.