The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the Section 8 housing subsidy program which provides lower-income people with vouchers or certificates to be applied to their rent.
Typically, Section 8 tenants pay a portion of their rent, while HUD, or the local housing agency pays the balance. Under an ordinance past in 1998, Section 8 tenancies are now covered under rent control in San Francisco.
The biggest concern related to this change is that a landlord or property management firm can no longer simply withdraw their units from Section 8 with 30 days notice for "economic reasons". Thus, if a tenant loses his/her section 8 subsidy, they cannot be removed from a unit unless they fail to make timely payment of the entire rent amount (including the amount previously paid by the Housing Authority). This means that Section 8 tenants, and former Section 8 tenants cannot be evicted from their units except for the specific reasons allowable under the San Francisco Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance.
Having made this change in the law, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors realized that it was creating a disincentive to rent to Section 8 tenants. So, in order to ensure that landlords and property managers do not discriminate against Section 8 tenants it passed a second law in 1998 which bans "discrimination on the basis of income".
A landlord is now required to count the housing subsidy and other public benefits a tenant receives as if it were income from employment. Landlords do not have an obligation to rent to Section 8 tenants, but must give Section 8 applicants the same consideration as they would an applicant without benefits.
For more information, see Section 37.2, 37.3, and 37.9 of the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance.