Legislation will 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
San Francisco – (May 17, 2016) Today Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation 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 someone living in the same building who does not receive a HOPWA subsidy. Specifically, 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 anyone else.
“People living with HIV/AIDS endure challenges every day, and worrying about whether their rent is going to dramatically increase should not be one of those challenges,” said Supervisor Wiener. “It makes no sense that just because you receive a subsidy to help you pay rent that you don’t have the full protections of rent control. HOPWA recipients are some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors, and we need to do whatever we can do keep them secure in their homes and in our neighborhoods.”
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.
“We believe the protections of San Francisco’s Rent Ordinance should be available to all San Franciscans regardless of the type of subsidy they receive,” said Bill Hirsh, Executive Director of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. “Housing is the single biggest issue for people living with HIV/AIDS. We appreciate the work of Supervisor Wiener to make this legislative fix to ensure that people with AIDS can remain in their affordable housing.”
This legislation will have an effective date that sets the date of introduction – today – as the operative date of the ordinance. This means that when this legislation does pass, tenants’ rent will be protected under rent control at the level they are paying today. The legislation will go the Land Use and Transportation Committee.
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.