In San Francisco's competitive real estate market, North Beach Citizens, a nonprofit that has helped hundreds of chronically homeless people in the neighborhood get off the streets, feels fortunate to have purchased its first building.
The organization, currently located at 720 Columbus Ave., will double the size of its office after securing a $1.25 million loan to purchase space at 1034 Kearny St., a long-vacant adult film theater. The project is expected to break ground Wednesday.
“Definitely the state of rents now in San Francisco are very scary,” said Kristie Fairchild, executive director of North Beach Citizens. “Being able to own the place, we can really become an institution within The City. It could really create a solution to ending homelessness.”
North Beach Citizens was able to avoid the fate of similar nonprofits such as the Homeless Youth Alliance, which was unable to renew the lease at its Haight office and instead closed.
Along with a new three-story building, North Beach Citizens plans to double the number of homeless people it serves from 300 to 600 per year; increase its food pantry hours and distribution; enhance its intensive case management and clinical mental health services; and bring on more volunteers for a street beautification project in the neighborhood.
The loan North Beach Citizens obtained from the Northern California Community Loan Fund enabled it to buy, renovate and move into its new building by this summer. But the nonprofit still needs to raise money to pay back the loan and fund other endeavors. It has until June 2017 to reach its $5 million target and is halfway there thanks to fundraising from board members and donations.
“We have huge community support,” said Sharna Brockett, a member of the group's board, “so we're quite confident we can close that gap.”