SAN FRANCISCO (TheBlaze/AP) — Nuns who faced possible eviction from San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district because of a rent increase have won a reprieve.
Lawyers for the nuns and landlord, with help from motivational speaker Tony Robbins, reached a deal Friday allowing the nuns to stay for a year at their current rent, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The deal gives the sisters time to find a new home for their soup kitchen. Robbins — who was poor as a child and homeless as a teenager and likes to tell the story of how profoundly it touched him when a stranger once gave his hungry family a basket of food — promised to donate $50,000 to help.
The Fraternite Notre Dame has run the kitchen for eight years. But in January the nuns were told their rent would jump about 50 percent to $5,500 a month. The nuns said they couldn’t afford it and refused to pay.
Michael Heath, a lawyer for landlord Nick Patel, said he’s glad there’s a tentative resolution.
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.
Sister Mary Benedicte and Sister Mary of the Angels sleep in the back of the storefront and in the evenings, they bake pastries — French tarts and cookies — to sell at a local farmer’s market to supplement their income.
“But you have to think to the other people. The people who are suffering and struggling on the street,” Benedict told KPIX-TV. “You have to make money, you can make money, but you have to help the poor people. So you have to find the right balance.”
The two sisters feed lunch to about 300 people three times a week. They offer dinner twice a week, using donated food and cash to dish up warm meals.