Losing our conscience - Page 2

Rising commercial rents squeezing San Francisco's nonprofits

Debbie Lerman, who runs the Human Services Network, raised concerns about nonprofits getting forced from the city.
Guardian photo by Tim Daw

Lerman went to Sup. Jane Kim with her concerns, prompting the supervisor to call for the hearing. Kim noted that this is the second time the city has dealt with nonprofits being priced out, and the last time was in the first tech boom. Many of those facing soaring rents are in Mid-Market and SoMA, where Twitter and Mayor Ed Lee's other tech darlings are moving in.

The tech bubble burst before the city could implements its solutions to nonprofits being priced out back in the '90s. Now those strategies are being revived.

The city could request new zoning laws that require spaces for nonprofits at below-market rates, incentives for commercial facility landlords to give them rent breaks, providing city loans or grants to rehabilitate new facilities, letting nonprofits use underutilized city property, or requiring commercial developers to pay into a rental fund for nonprofits, similar to the low income housing fund.

Kim's aides told the Guardian she'd convene a workgroup of city administrators from a multitude of departments and nonprofit representatives and try to refine and implement these solutions in the next six months.

The last time rents rose this high and fast, "we only got a better lease because of the tech crash," Love said at the hearing. "Let's not depend on that again."