Legislation to close a loophole in the San Francisco Rent Ordinance that exempts recipients of the federal housing program for people living with HIV/AIDS (known as HOPWA) from rent control protections

San Francisco – (June 14, 2016) Today the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation by Supervisor Scott Wiener to extend rent control to people living with HIV/AIDS who are a part of a federal housing subsidy program known as HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS). Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, HOPWA recipients do not receive the same rent protections under rent control as other recipients of federal voucher programs. The legislation was co-sponsored by Supervisor David Campos and Board President London Breed.

HOPWA recipients have no protections against rent increases, which means that even if they live in a rent-controlled building, their rent can be increased to market rate at any time. Supervisor Wiener’s legislation will end this exemption so that HOPWA recipients, many of whom are seniors and long-term HIV survivors, have the same rent control protections as other recipients of federal vouchers.

“People living with HIV/AIDS, who are often long-term survivors and seniors, need housing security as much as anyone,” said Supervisor Wiener. “As a City we need to do everything we can to protect these members of our community and keep them stable in their homes. This is a straightforward change that will impact the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.”

HOPWA is a federal program that provides housing assistance and supportive services for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. Those eligible for the rental assistance portion of HOPWA can receive a subsidy to pay a portion of their monthly rent.  There are 240 recipients in San Francisco’s HOPWA program.

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance establishes rent control protections that include limiting rent increases for any occupants of buildings built before 1979.  Within the rent ordinance, there is an exemption from these protections for any recipient of the HOPWA program. It is unclear why this exemption was included in the ordinance, as there is no restriction required by the federal program. Such an exemption does not exist for Section 8 recipients. Supervisor Wiener’s legislation will end this exemption, so that all HOPWA recipients receive full rent increase protections if they live in rent-controlled buildings.

Supervisor Wiener has long worked to protect and expand rent control. He supports Ellis Act reform and authored legislation to add rent-controlled units by allowing the construction of new in-law units in his district and in buildings undergoing voluntary and mandatory seismic upgrades.  He has also worked to support those living with HIV/AIDS, through his work in the budget to backfill federal HIV/AIDS cuts and to fund supportive services.

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