Low-income Mission child care center worries about losing lease

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Nearly a decade ago, the Mission Child Care Consortium, a go-to for working class families needing a place to watch over their 3 to 5-year-olds, had a chance to buy its three-story building in the Excelsior with the help of a loan from The City.

But just as the child care organization — subsidized by the state and the largest center of its kind in the area — was about to sign the purchase agreement, water and gas contamination were discovered under the building at 4750 Mission St. That held up the process and ultimately prevented the transaction.

Those issues have since been resolved, but the organization now finds itself facing San Francisco’s hot real estate market and doubts it can afford rent after its current five-year lease ends in 2018. The organization currently pays $28,000 per month, but Executive Director Joseph
Martinez said he expects it to skyrocket to $50,000 per month with a new lease.

“To tell you the truth, we probably will have to close the door unless we figure out a way to purchase the building,” Martinez said.

It may sound like the classic San Francisco tale of service organizations being priced out of The City, but the building owner Raymond Reudy says otherwise.

Reudy, who has owned the 24,000-square foot building for 17 years, said the rent he is charging the organization now is “so below [market] rent, it’s unbelievable” but that the perceived rent increase to $50,000 per month is “completely false.” The owner added he has been rooting for the organization and hopes they can come up with a loan for a purchase.

“I’m probably the only property owner in San Francisco that is not trying to take advantage of selling it to a developer,” Reudy said. “I really want to give them the best opportunity and I really hope it works out.”

Community efforts to make the purchase a reality began early this year, with Excelsior resident Asha Safai, 42, mobilizing neighbors to gather signatures in support of a loan for the organization. Safai, who was deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Development at the time of the initial purchase attempt, said he’s confident it will happen this time.

“We almost did it nine years ago and the issues have been dealt with, so I feel really confident that we’re going to get it done,” he said.

The continued existence of the organization is critical for low-income earners like Melani Gomez, 27, who brings her 5-year-old daughter at no cost five days a week while she cleans houses.

“It would be hard for me to make a living if they didn’t have the child care available here,” Gomez said, “Because I’m a single parent and I have to make a living for me and my daughter and I don’t have nobody else to take care of my daughter.”

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