Supervisor Dean Preston speaks on Nov. 2, 2020, in Japantown, San Francisco, Calif. (photo courtesy of Supervisor Preston's Office)

San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston on Tuesday introduced new legislation to direct city funds toward rent relief and housing stability programs as renters and landlords continue to face hardships due to COVID-19.

Under Preston’s proposal, funds from the Proposition I real estate transfer tax would be put toward the city’s Rent Resolution and Relief program and the city’s Housing Stability Fund.

“There’s a real fear among the people we represent that help is not on the way, particularly for renters and some small property owners, many of whom have been unable to make rent or mortgage payments because of the pandemic,” Preston said during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “Our state and federal governments have really failed thus far to meet the housing needs of this pandemic and that’s why we’ve made this such a priority locally.”

Proposition I, approved by 58 percent of the voters in November, is estimated to generate $14.1 million in funding.

Under Preston’s funding proposal, Prop. I funds would be split evenly between the rent relief and housing stability programs.

In October, the board unanimously passed ordinances to create both the rent resolution and relief program and the housing stability fund. The rent resolution and relief program helps small property owners whose tenants can’t pay rent because of COVID-19-related hardships, while the housing stability fund aims to finance permanently affordable housing projects throughout the city.

Also on Tuesday, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer introduced legislation urging the San Francisco Unified School District to come up with a “robust comprehensive plan” for schools to reopen.

Most of the city’s schools have had their doors shut for the last nine months, however, some elementary and middle schools, both public and private, have been allowed to reopen through the city’s permit process.

Fewer is pushing for all schools to reopen in the coming months.

“To say that students and their families have been struggling with distance learning is an understatement,” Fewer said. “This unimaginable gap year has the potential to lead to one of the worst educational inequities for this generation of students.”

Fewer is “calling on the school district to develop a concrete plan with input from educators and families to immediately outline any needs; financial, technical, staffing, facilities, safety, public health, or anything that can be met with public, private, philanthropic or city
support.”

In addition, during Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors voted 6-5 to refer an ordinance that would ban smoking in apartment buildings back to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee for further discussion.

While the ordinance bans tobacco smoke, it exempts cannabis smoke.

Supervisors Preston, Hillary Ronen, Matt Haney, Gordon Mar, Aaron Peskin and Shamann Walton voted in favor of further discussing the ordinance.

“I do want to address the harm of second-hand smoke in multi-unit residential buildings, but I think there are better ways,” Peskin said, before proposing to send the item back to committee without a vote.

In a statement after the meeting, Supervisor Norman Yee, who authored the ordinance, said he was disappointed by the vote.

“Today’s vote failed to prioritize the health of our most vulnerable community members. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which causes cancer, lung disease and harms brain and heart functions,” Yee said. “It is completely backwards that we should defend the rights of people to smoke in their own homes over the rights of others to breathe safely.”