LGBTQ therapy agency warns of eviction from SF Castro office

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday May 20, 2024
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Queer LifeSpace Executive Director Ryan MacCarrigan, right, spoke to supporters May 18 about the threat of eviction to the LGBTQ therapy agency. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Queer LifeSpace Executive Director Ryan MacCarrigan, right, spoke to supporters May 18 about the threat of eviction to the LGBTQ therapy agency. Photo: Rick Gerharter

A Castro neighborhood LGBTQ counseling and mental health treatment agency said that it's facing an eviction threat. The news came as Queer LifeSpace had to cancel its gala that was to have been held last weekend because of low ticket sales.

"We are under a real threat of eviction," Ryan MacCarrigan, a gay man who is the executive director of Queer LifeSpace, said at a rally May 18 outside the center's office, which is at 2275 Market Street. "They are claiming we owe bogus maintenance costs and fees from the pandemic. We believe this is fraudulent and unjustified."

All in all, MacCarrigan said the amount the landlord claims Queer LifeSpace owes is $180,000, but this has changed over time.

MacCarrigan claims that the identity of the landlord is unclear. (The owner of the property is a company, Regent West Limited, LP.) What is known is that the property manager for the building is Byron Yee of Renoir Property Management.

The Bay Area Reporter reached out to Renoir Property Management for comment for this report. A spokesperson would not clarify whether they were property managers only or also landlords, and insisted on the title "owner." His statement in response to Queer LifeSpace's claims it is under threat of eviction is "this is not true and there's no efforts to evict the tenant whatsoever."

Responding to that statement, MacCarrigan said, "That's normal for them because they know the optics are terrible." As for a notice to quit, MacCarrigan said it hasn't come but that "our lawyer believes it's coming so we're on alert every day."

Queer LifeSpace has been around for 13 years, providing affordable therapy and other mental health services to the queer community. It is the nonprofit arm of the San Francisco Therapy Collective. Queer LifeSpace also trains therapists to become LGBTQ competent, said MacCarrigan. There are nine first-time clinical trainees and five associates, he said.

Queer LifeSpace had planned a gala for May 18 at 620 Jones Street, but it had to be canceled, MacCarrigan said, because the organization did not sell enough tickets.

"We had to cancel the gala because we are struggling to sell tickets," MacCarrigan said. "I had talked to [gay District 8 Supervisor] Rafael Mandelman about the possibility Facebook had put us in a penalty box for our ads."

MacCarrigan claims Facebook may have classified Queer LifeSpace as a "social issues organization," which limited its ad reach, and thus its ability to sell tickets to the gala.

"It feels discriminatory," MacCarrigan said.

Meta, which owns Facebook, did not return a request for comment.

Mandelman said he was concerned about the threat of eviction.

"The Castro already has way too many commercial vacancies, and this building is part of that," he stated May 20. "Property owners need to be filling the vacancies they already have, not creating more (especially not when the existing tenant is a valuable community resource like Queer LifeSpace).

"I am quite concerned about Queer LifeSpace as well as the other tenants at 2275 Market," Mandelman added. "We have been in touch with them for several months and have connected them to city resources where appropriate. We have also reached out to the landlord's legal counsel and requested a meeting with the landlord."

No clients or therapists spoke at the rally, but two candidates for San Francisco mayor did. At the rally, District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, a straight ally who is running, presented a certificate of honor to Queer LifeSpace.

"It's just wrong that Queer LifeSpace is facing eviction," he stated. "They offer crucial mental health services to the LGBTQIA+ community, and now, when commercial spaces are empty all over town, they're being pushed out. Landlords should be helping businesses stay in San Francisco, not driving them away. We need to step up — this isn't just about one organization; it's about taking a stand against the bigger issues hurting San Francisco right now."

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, a straight ally who is also running for mayor and represents District 3 (including North Beach, Chinatown, and the Financial District), was also there and spoke. Peskin discussed the commercial vacancy tax he'd championed to passage in 2020, saying that an eviction "is not only in the worst interest of the community but isn't even in the interest of the landlord" because people might not want to rent from a landlord involved in an unjust eviction.

"In North Beach, the neighborhood, just like the Castro, doesn't stand for it," he said. "You don't want that space if someone is unjustly evicted, and it stays vacant.

"Mr. Yee," he intoned, addressing the property manager, who was not present, "there's a vacancy tax."

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