The sisters of Fraternité Notre-Dame in San Francisco are facing eviction after their rent price increased by over $1,000 per month--a 50 percent increase over their current rent of $3,465. The sisters, whose mission is to feed the needy and homeless, cannot afford the new rent rate and are having trouble finding a location in San Francisco that is willing to let a soup kitchen operate.
"Everywhere the rent is very high, and many places don't want a soup kitchen in their place," said Sister Mary Benedicte on Tuesday, in her French-accented English. "It's very, very hard to find a place for a soup kitchen where people can feel welcome and where we can set up a kitchen for a reasonable price."
Since 2008, the modest kitchen has sat on a derelict street in the Tenderloin neighborhood, long associated with homelessness and drug use. But it's also within walking distance of a revitalizing middle Market Street area, led by the relocation of Twitter in 2012.
Brad Lagomarsino, an executive vice president with commercial real estate company Colliers International, said that since 2010 there's been a "dramatic increase" in residential and retail rents in the middle Market area, leading to spillover increases in the Tenderloin.
The still-seedy neighborhood, in other words, is trending up.
This is incredibly unfortunate, and it's a sign of a bigger problem facing cities. There is an extreme wealth disparity in San Francisco, and the cities neediest--and those who seek to help them--are getting squeezed out.