Daybreak PAC teams up with Open Door Legal to prevent ‘Tsunami of Evictions’

Mass evictions are not new to this generation of San Franciscans. Far too many lost their homes in the “dot-com boom,” when Silicon Valley corporations began moving to the City, and the well-paid “techies” displaced Latino families that had called the Mission home for decades. This banner was unfurled from the balcony inside City Hall during a protest in 2015. Hopefully, we’ve learned from that tragic experience; this time Open Door Legal and Daybreak PAC are prepared to support tenants and prevent evictions. – Photo: Eric Risberg, AP

With an estimated 32,000 San Francisco households behind on rent – and an unknown number behind on mortgages – due to the pandemic, legal aid organizations are bracing for a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures threatening to overwhelm the system. Experts at Open Door Legal have predicted a 400 percent increase in their eviction defense caseload and a doubling of their foreclosure caseload by the end of 2021.

“The good news is that there is some relief funding available; the bad news is that California has only paid out about $1 million so far for a state of 40 million residents, with San Francisco residents alone having an estimated $81 million to $186 million in cumulative back rent,” said Adrian Tirtanadi, co-founder and executive director of Open Door Legal. “We need to massively scale up outreach, especially in areas like Bayview, Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley and the Excelsior.”

Daybreak PAC, who recently conducted a successful vaccination outreach drive in the Southeast, has partnered with Open Door Legal to identify residents behind on rent and mortgage payments and support them with accessing assistance.

“Districts 10 and 11 are far and away the most diverse areas of the city, and home to more children – both total and per capita – than any other districts,” said Daybreak PAC Director and third generation Southeast resident Róisín Isner. “Mass eviction and foreclosure would effectively level our neighborhoods. Entire demographics could get swept off the map completely. The loss to our city would be incalculable.”

“Mass eviction and foreclosure would effectively level our neighborhoods. Entire demographics could get swept off the map completely. The loss to our city would be incalculable.”Daybreak PAC Director and third generation Southeast resident Róisín Isner

According to Open Door Legal Managing Housing Attorney Nikki Love, “Our hardest hit communities are just trying to make it to the next day. By the time tenants contact us, they are at the point of desperation. If we hope to get ahead of this impending eviction disaster, our community needs access to this money now. I’m proud that Open Door Legal is stepping up to do our part.”

Prior to the pandemic, the Southeast neighborhoods were already experiencing mass displacement, with many multi-generational families forced to leave due to the cost of rent. The Southeast – which has long been home to a large population of low-income homeowners – also suffered a third of the city’s foreclosures following the great recession of 2008.

“There’s a very real concern that unwarranted and illegal displacement will occur if we can’t get people connected to support fast enough and we enter a mass eviction and foreclosure crisis,” said Daybreak PAC founder Jackie Fielder. “The local and state governments have been too slow to respond to an eviction cliff we’ve all seen coming for more than a year. Right now, we’re quite literally taking a final stand against one of the greatest displacement events in our city’s history.”

Daybreak PAC and Open Door Legal will be hosting phone banks every Wednesday at 5 p.m. If you or a loved one have been unable to pay rent or mortgage because of the pandemic, visit opendoorlegal.org/covid.

Watch the press conference: https://www.facebook.com/DaybreakPAC/videos/1201504246966217/?__so__=channel_tab&__rv__=all_videos_card

For more information or to get involved, email roisin@daybreakpac.org or jess@opendoorlegal.org.