City Grants Help 3 Nonprofits Buy Local Office Space

Three nonprofits have been selected to receive city grants that will help them buy permanent space in San Francisco.

The funds are part of the Mayor’s Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, which will disperse $9 million over three years through programs that help nonprofits buy their own property and reduce facilities costs. 

Northern California Community Loan Fund helps structure financing and administer the program, with support from the mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Office of Housing and Community Development, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

According to OEWD, there has been huge demand for assistance. In the program’s first round, awarded in May, requests were more than three times the amount of funding available— $7,460,195 was requested, but only $2,688,725 was available.

Trends in the San Francisco Office Market | Graph: Cushman & Wakefield

This round, Compass Family Services received $1 million to buy space at 1236 Market St., Mission Neighborhood Centers received $1 million to buy space at 1850 Bryant St., and Planned Parenthood received $175,000 to expand into 1522 Bush St.

In all, the agencies aim to buy a combined 45,000 square feet of space.

Compass Family Services already owns two locations, said Colm Hegarty, the group's development director. But it also leases space on Polk Street for its Compass Family Shelter, rents administrative office space at 49 Powell St., and houses three other critical programs in leased property at 955 Market St.

Hegarty said a space at 1236 Market St. would house his group's administrative offices, along with the programs that operate out of 955 Market. The programs that will move to the new location served 3,936 individuals, including kids, from 1,391 family households, Hagerty said.

While Compass will receive $1 million from the city to support its effort to buy another permanent location, it expects to need to raise another $19 million to purchase and renovate the building, Hegarty said. In 2016, 64.5 percent of Compass Family Services’ revenue came from city, state, and federal government grants. 

The three nonprofits that received grants in this round combined require nearly $32 million in financing to buy and renovate their planned spaces, according to OEWD. Between loans, grants and tax credits, the nonprofits will leverage an average of $13 for every $1 awarded in grant funding this round.

San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Sandra Fewer speaking at the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative Awards press conference in May. L-R: Participants from Community Youth Center, Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, Joanne Lee (NCCLF), and Todd Rufo (OEWD). | Photo: NCCLF

Each nonprofit must have secured all of the additional funds needed to close on the space they intend to buy before receiving grant funding. The grant serves as critical seed money, but each project’s success depends on other funders investing as well.

The Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative’s funding is available to nonprofits across the city, but award criteria prioritizes agencies that are deeply rooted in low-income communities in high need for services, where nonprofits often face higher fundraising hurdles.

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City grants help 3 nonprofits buy local office space