SAN FRANCISCO - In less than a week, the country could begin to see the start of a wave of evictions.
After two extensions, the moratorium blocking evictions enacted during the pandemic will end on Sept. 30.
Over the weekend, people rallied in cities across the country, including San Francisco, vowing to fight to keep people in their homes.
There were two separate, but related events in the city, both aimed at having all rental debt canceled so no one is forced out of their home during a pandemic.
"You definitely feel a sense of emergency and a sense of crisis in a lot of the more working-class neighborhoods in the Bay Area," said Brain Zhang, one of the organizers with www.canceltherents.org, which put on the events in the city.
Zhang was describing the anguish some tenants may be feeling as the eviction moratorium nears its end.
He spoke on the issue at a car caravan, part of nationwide demonstrations put together by his group.
"Ultimately our goal is to generate enough popular support, agitate enough of the working class to get the people in congress, these people who are supposed to represent the interest of us to pass an indefinite eviction moratorium," said Zhang.
They also want congress to eliminate all rent and mortgage debt accumulated during the pandemic.
And they are calling for easier, faster access to the billions of already approved rental relief funds, of which only a small fraction has been distributed to landlords and tenants.
Zhang and others say language issues, technology barriers, and a complicated process has made it difficult for some tenants to access rent relief money.
"We can help people navigate those systems that are designed, I think, in a way to be opaque so that more people are caught off and unaware," said Jeffrey Phillips with San Francisco’s West Side Tenants Association.
Phillips joined about a dozen others during a rally that picked up where the caravan left off, at Garfield Square in the Mission District.
Many of the participants are activists with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and are looking for broader economic reforms that give everyone access to safe housing.
For now, their immediate concern is preventing evictions.
They say they can help people who contact them through their website at www.canceltherents.org/bayarea.
"Our organization doesn't have legal support but we know where to get you that legal support locally. We know volunteers in downtown Oakland in Fruitvale, in the Mission, San Francisco. We can connect you to these resources," said Zhang.
They have also set up an eviction response network that can assist people who need help fighting an eviction.