Queer LifeSpace finds new home in the Castro

  • by Heather Cassell
  • Wednesday March 6, 2013
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Queer LifeSpace founders Joe Voors, left, Stacey Rodgers,<br>Christopher Holleran, and Nancy Heilner look forward to relocating the agency's<br>offices.(Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
Queer LifeSpace founders Joe Voors, left, Stacey Rodgers,
Christopher Holleran, and Nancy Heilner look forward to relocating the agency's
offices.(Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Queer LifeSpace, which provides mental health services to the LGBT community, will stay in the Castro.

Nancy Heilner, QLS executive director, signed a seven-year lease with an option for renewal for another seven years for an office at 2275 Market Street March 1.

The nonprofit hopes to move into its new home May 1.

"I am very relieved and really excited," said Heilner, 57, an out lesbian. "It really feels good to know that we are going to be able to be here for a long time. I'm just really grateful that we were able to stay in the Castro."

At the beginning of February the nonprofit queer mental health organization also launched a $60,000 capital campaign to cover the moving and remodeling costs, which includes a crowdfunding component via Indiegogo.

As of March 4, the nonprofit's leadership has raised $4,780 toward its $15,000 Indiegogo goal with 35 days to go.

In addition to the capital campaign, QLS's leadership is looking into other funding options. Since November, the nonprofit received support from the Castro and Folsom street fairs and a $38,000 grant from the San Francisco Foundation, said Heilner.

If all goes well with construction of the new space and the move, there won't be an interruption in services to the nonprofit's 200 low-income clients, said Heilner.

QLS and its for-profit arm the SF Therapy Collective were informed in September 2012 that the lease at its current location at 474 Castro Street wouldn't be renewed when it ended April 30.

Instead, the space was leased to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for its men's health and wellness center. As previously reported, SFAF is planning a $7.9 million fundraising campaign for renovations and other costs. The foundation plans to locate three of its programs â€" Stonewall Project, Magnet, and the Stop AIDS Project â€" in the Castro location.

QLS' soon-to-be new home will not only keep the mental health organization centered in the Castro, but it expands the nonprofit's services by giving it extra space, said Heilner. It will also keep the collective and the nonprofit together, as SF Therapy Collective will be right next door to QLS, as it has been since its founding in July 2011.

QLS officials said they would focus on starting a youth therapy group once the move is completed. Previous plans for the group were put on hold when they learned they would have to find new space, Heilner said.

The SF Therapy Collective and QLS were started by four mental health and substance abuse therapists who used to work at New Leaf: Services for Our Community. They include Heilner, Christopher Holleran, Stacey Rodgers, and Joe Voors.

The nonprofit counseling organization earned less than $25,000 in 2011, according to its 990 IRS filing. Heilner and Rodgers, QLS's director of communications, projected that in October QLS's budget would be $60,000, but now the collective and the nonprofit will have to add an annual $10,800 rent increase for the additional three offices it gained.

The additional offices are welcomed by the nonprofit's leadership. Last week they opened a waiting list to provide services to an additional eight people, said Heilner.

"This move is enabling us to expand our services," said Heilner. "We are going to be really happy to expand services as our client base continues to grow."

To donate, contact Ana Zamora, QLS's fundraising coordinator, or visit http://www.queerlifespace.org/donations or http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/325957.