Coronavirus Crisis: SF supervisors propose stop on all rent, mortgage payments

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two San Francisco supervisors are proposing a resolution that would call on state and federal officials to declare a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The moratorium could provide relief to people who have lost their jobs and businesses that have closed as a result of shelter-in-place orders, but there could also be serious unintended consequences.

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"If we keep going two, three months closed, that's when we're going to be in serious trouble," said Rachel Ryan, a co-owner of The Stud, which opened in 1966 and is San Francisco's oldest queer bar. Like other San Francisco watering holes, The Stud closed to comply with the shelter-in-place.

"Like a lot of small businesses, The Stud scrapes by, we're essentially a non-profit. Our bottom line is about employing people and keeping this historic space open."

Ryan says they already laid off all 25 of their employees, and now she's worried about rent.

"To see the rent pile up over the next couple months would be devastating for us."

Mayor London Breed already announced a 30-day stop on evictions, which means Stud won't lose their building next month.

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But San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney are trying to take it a step further. They held a Zoom press conference Tuesday to announce new legislation - calling on Governor Newsom and the Trump administration to impose a moratorium on all rent and mortgage payments.

"Rent that tenants will not have to pay back when the stay at home order lifts and a freeze on mortgages," said Supervisor Ronen.

"Yes, this would be an unprecedented step, but we are in completely unprecedented times," said Supervisor Haney.

"What are people going to do to avoid becoming homeless in extreme cases? That's an issue that impacts all of us," said UC Berkeley professor, Harley Shaiken.

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Professor Shaiken studies how people are impacted by the economy. He thinks a rent and mortgage moratorium will create a destructive ripple through the entire economic system.

But, he does think ordinary people, not just bank, deserve a bail-out.

"I think it would make more sense to provide money to the renter or mortgage holder to ensure for a given period of time that they remain viable."

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