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Nonprofits Can't Afford San Francisco

Office rents have doubled since 2009 as startups crowd in

In one form or another, Lutheran Social Services of Northern California has been helping San Francisco’s poor, homeless, and disabled for more than 130 years. Among other things, the group now advises more than 2,000 formerly homeless people on money management. Last year the owner of the building where the agency’s office was located—in a gentrifying neighborhood near Twitter’s headquarters on Market Street—told Deputy Director Nancy Nielsen that he wouldn’t renew Lutheran Social Services’ lease. A tech company had moved in upstairs, and the owner, structural engineering company Nishkian Menninger, wanted to make room for another tenant that could pay twice the $113,000 annual rent the social workers were paying. “She said they can’t afford it,” says Levon Nishkian, the president of Nishkian Menninger, “and so it was time to move on.”

Photograph by Noel Spirandelli for Bloomberg Businessweek