SF’s anti-displacement fund helps domestic violence nonprofit purchase a building

A nonprofit that provides domestic violence counseling in San Francisco will receive $1 million in grant funding from The City to help purchase a new home.

La Casa de las Madres will use the funds to buy 1269 Howard St., the former site of the offices of haberdashery Goorin Bros., for $6.5 million. The deal for the approximately 8,000 square foot building is expected to close this month.

The funding is part of the latest round of grants from San Francisco’s nonprofit anti-displacement fund. The City is expected to announce $2.2 million in grants for 12 organizations on Tuesday .

The fund was launched in 2016 in response to alarm from nonprofit leaders over soaring real estate costs, and is intended to help them survive The City’s high rents.

The second largest grant, $675,000, will go to Mission Kids, which provides provides childcare to low-and moderate-income families. The funding will help that nonprofit with its purchase of 969 Treat Ave. and its plans to build a two-story building that will expand the number of children it can serve from 34 to 80.

“San Francisco is committed to ensuring that these vital organizations can continue to do their important work to help our community,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. Breed said the fund “helps ensure that they can afford to continue operating here in San Francisco and remain focused on their missions without having to worry about being priced out.”

By buying the Howard Street building, La Casa de las Madres will no longer face that uncertainty and it also allows them to grow their operations, increasing their office space by about 3,000 more square feet. The office use includes onsite counseling and community outreach.

Kathy Black, executive director La Casa de Las Madres, called the purchase a “transformative move” for the nonprofit. The move will occur before the lease ends on March 31 at its current location at 1663 Mission St., where rent is about $180,000 a year. The nonprofit has moved three times in the past 20 years.

“Nonprofits are being forced out of San Francisco,” Black said. “Every single department that relies on nonprofits to provide services are watching their partners leave San Francisco and that’s just crazy.”

“It just wouldn’t work for us to be someplace else,” Black said.

It took about 18 months searching in proximity of their current offices and some setbacks. “Somebody outbid me with cash” when she looked to buy another site.

Black said it’s “really freeing in a lot of ways” to go from being at the “mercy of a property management company” to then “holding your destiny.”

The nonprofit, with an annual budget of $3 million, has 34 employees, 187 volunteers. The group responds to approximately 9,000 hotline calls and provides services to 5,000 survivors of domestic violence annually. They also operate a shelter at an undisclosed location that houses about 450 women and children each year.

The nonprofit anti-displacement fund is technically called the San Francisco’s Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, which overseen by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

“Nonprofit partnerships help us address intractable equity challenges and are vital to the well-being of San Francisco’s citizens,” Joaquín Torres, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said in a statement.

Ten other groups are getting funding to help them in a variety of ways other than for site purchases.

For example, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, which advocate for criminal justice reform, will receive $54,507 to build out a 2,500 square foot space in a building it owns in order to move programs into that space from a leased space where rents are on the rise.

South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN), which supports low-income residents in the South of Market and Tenderloin, will receive $60,000 to relocate into a temporary space after its rent increased. Ultimately, the group hopes to buy a new site.

Since 2016, the program has awarded $7.2 million in grants and assisted more than 90 nonprofits. There are nearly 7,000 nonprofits in San Francisco providing a range of services, often in partnership with The City.

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