Affordability Programs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: City Resources for Arts Organizations and Low Income Artists and their Families

In October 2013, San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst released a report describing the impact of the rapid rise of commercial rents and early termination of leases on non-profit organizations. As a result of this report, the Board of Supervisors resolved in November 2013 to create a working group comprised of City departments holding significant contracts with nonprofit service organizations and the nonprofit partners. The goal of the group was to find creative solutions that would keep San Francisco’s social safety net and cultural heritage intact and geographically located to effectively provide essential services to the community. Read the working group’s report here.

Concurrently, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee voted to place $2.515 million on reserve to respond to the recommendations that the working group would put forth. Supervisor Avalos amended this reserve amount by adding an additional $2 million to be earmarked for the nonprofit arts community. On May 13, 2014, the Board of Supervisors, in a special hearing of the full board, unanimously voted to remove the funds from reserve. The $2.515 million will be administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development for social services nonprofits and $2 million will be administered by the Arts Commission for arts and culture nonprofits.

NEW Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Grants & Technical Assistance

If you know of a San Francisco-based nonprofit facing a rent increase or displacement, they may be eligible for technical or financial assistance through the City and County of San Francisco’s Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Program. Nonprofits in the program have benefited from lease extensions and negotiations, short-term rental subsidies and tenant improvement funds, and are often among the first to hear about new below-market real estate opportunities.
The Northern California Community Loan Fund is accepting applications for Financial Assistance. There is approximately $213,000 in grant funds remaining for social service organizations, $85,000 for childcare organizations, and $138,000 for arts and culture organizations. Applications are due Friday, October 14th by 5pm to be considered for the 2016 financial assistance awards.  More information and guidelines.

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Learn more about Affordable Housing options.

Are you facing eviction?
The San Francisco Human Services Agency provides eviction prevention services that include funds to pay back rent to prevent eviction, one-time rental assistance, security deposit funds to move into permanent housing, legal services, counseling, and other support services. Call the San Francisco Rental Assistance Program Information Line at 415-557-6484 for more information.

How can I tell if my eviction is legal?
In order to evict a tenant from a rental unit covered by the Rent Ordinance, a landlord must have a “just cause” reason that is the dominant motive for pursuing the eviction.

There are 15 just cause reasons for eviction under Ordinance Section 37.9(a). The most common are:

  • Non-payment of rent or habitual late payment of rent;
  • Breach of a rental agreement or lease;
  • Owner-occupancy or occupancy by a member of the landlord’s immediate family;
  • To perform capital improvements which will make the unit temporarily uninhabitable while the work is being done;
  • To perform substantial rehabilitation of a building that is at least 50 years old, provided that the cost of the proposed work is at least 75% of the cost of new construction;
  • To withdraw the rental units from the rental market under the Ellis Act;
  • Creation of a nuisance or substantial interference with the landlord or other tenants in the building; and
  • To demolish or permanently remove a rental unit from housing use.

Learn more about just cause evictions.

What is the Ellis Act?
The Ellis Act is found in California Government Code Section 7060, et seq. It was enacted by the California legislature in 1986 to require municipalities to allow property owners to go out of the residential rental housing business.

Pursuant to the Ellis Act, San Francisco has enacted a procedure in the Rent Ordinance that owners must follow if they are going to evict tenants so that they can go out of the rental housing business. Follow this link to learn more:

Are there special services for families who are facing eviction?
The Family Eviction Program provides eviction prevention services including funds to pay back rent, case management, budgeting advice, and other referrals. This program serves low-income families renting anywhere in San Francisco, including in San Francisco Housing Authority units. The Family Eviction Program is administered by Catholic Charities, a nonprofit partner of the Human Services Agency. Call 415- 972-1300 for more information.

Can I get legal assistance with my eviction?
If you are a low-income family, a single adult, an individual with a disability, or a senior and are threatened with eviction, the Human Services Agency can help. Services may include funds to pay back rent, eviction defense, legal assistance, and tenant rights education. The Eviction Defense Collaborative is a nonprofit partner of the Human Services Agency. Call 415-947-0797 for more information.

Can I get assistance with paying back rent?
If you are facing eviction, the Season of Sharing Fund may be able to help you with paying back rent. Call 415-557-6484 for information.

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What resources are available to help me put food on the table?
If you are trying to make ends meet on a low income, you may be eligible for CalFresh to help you purchase food. Call 415-558-1001 or toll free at 877-366-3076. For more information and to learn about other food assistance programs, visit

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Do I qualify for health insurance under the Affordable Health Care Act?
Federal health reform has expanded who qualifies for free or low cost health insurance. Previously uninsured or Healthy San Francisco participants may qualify for free Medi-Cal or low cost health insurance through Covered CA beginning January 1, 2014.

Residents seeking coverage can apply through multiple channels:

  • Online at
  • By phone to Covered California at 800-300-1506, Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • In person at SF BenefitsNet, 1440 Harrison Street, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For information about Medi-Cal:

Healthy San Francisco Customer Service

  • Participants & Visitors: 415-615-4555
  • TDD/TTY for People who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, or have Speech Disabilities: 415-547-7830