They seized vacant El Sereno homes at the start of the pandemic. Now, they face eviction after being denied a rent subsidy that a judge denied in March.
“The people of California are tired of being evicted from their homes because of a lack of affordable housing,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement Tuesday.
The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court by Renters United, argues that the state’s decision to stop distributing Section 8 housing vouchers is illegal because it is the result of a local government decision to evict residents who signed up to use them.
According to the suit, “this sudden change in policy by the City and County of San Francisco (CSCF) and the City and County of San Diego (CSCD) has created a mass eviction wave that threatens residents’ homes, undermines the housing stock statewide, and hinders the government’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“When you look at the San Diego and San Francisco governments, they both have a role to play in addressing the crisis,” Becerra said. “But at the end of the day, I think what everybody has to do is make sure housing stability for our most vulnerable residents is protected.”
In February, the city began waiving the $600 penalty for being late on rent payments and extending the time landlords have to rent to tenants in COVID-affected areas.
The following month, after facing backlash, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the city would no longer give housing subsidies to low-income seniors, immigrants and military personnel, and to those with children under the age of 18 living with them.
“San Diego’s leadership is responding to the crisis by putting the needs of our most vulnerable residents first. It is imperative that we continue to do so. San Diego has a responsibility to look after our most vulnerable residents,” Faulconer said.
The eviction lawsuit argues that the policy announced by Faulconer was a “deployment” of the program, which the city uses to provide free housing to people who are financially unable to pay for their own homes. The city uses the program to keep about 15,000 homeless people in safe housing, with no access to utilities.
“The City and County of San Francisco (CSCF) has a legal obligation to provide Section 8 housing to vulnerable residents in high