SAN FRANCISCO—The sisters of Fraternite Notre Dame’s Mary of Nazareth House are facing potential eviction due to rising rent in San Francisco’s Tenderloin area. Since 2008, the sisters have been running a soup kitchen in the region to assist the homeless community.
Since the kitchen’s beginnings, the city has been facing gentrification. On Tuesday, February 9, the sisters said they were facing a rent increase of more than 50 percent of their current rent at $3,465 rent. The sisters are currently pleading for an extension from the landlord to find a more affordable area to continue serving the community.
San Francisco has been undergoing gentrification since the influx of tech workers and start-up companies began moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. The Tenderloin District is known as a part of the city associated with high rates of homelessness, alcohol and drug usage. The neighborhood has been affected by the city’s rising rent increases from neighboring areas.
The region’s reputation renovation has largely been attributed to the rise of tech companies in surrounding areas. The kitchen is within walking distance of popular shopping hubs and the popular Market Street shopping area, which saw substantial changes with the relocation of Twitter in 2012.
According to the sisters, the kitchen feeds approximately 300 people from meals provided by food and monetary donations. “Many places don’t want a soup kitchen in their place,” said Sister Mary Benedicte. “It’s 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,” she added.
According to Benedicte, the sisters devote most of their time to running the kitchen. They are a donation-based organization and make some supplemental money by selling French pastries to farmer’s markets. These small sources of income will not be able to cover the new rent rate which has risen to $5,500 per month.
Benedicte and her fellow sisters also provide meals to senior citizens and local HIV/AIDS patients in addition to the homeless community. Benedicte said they were also in the process of starting a program for low-income families as well, but planning efforts have come to a halt with news of the rent increase.