arts Blog

Protecting Oakland Nonprofits from Displacement

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation understands that securing affordable space is one of the biggest challenges facing nonprofit arts organizations. The East Bay Times has published a story about the collaborative efforts aimed at protecting nonprofits, including the Rainin Foundation’s recent investments that helped the Community Arts Stabilization Trust to expand its work to Oakland. 

Bay Area Organizations Work to Protect Nonprofits from Displacement
By Ali Tadayon, East Bay Times

Oakland nonprofits fearing displacement because of rising rents have a working group of other nonprofits, funding organizations and city and county leaders in their corner.

The Nonprofit Displacement Project, organized by philanthropy network Northern California Grantmakers in 2015, is working to secure affordable space for nonprofits in the Bay Area as well as to provide them with the technical skills to find and keep their own space.

“The culture of a city is its soul.”– Shelley Trott, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

The group’s formation coincided with the publishing of survey results showing that half of the Oakland nonprofits that responded anticipated having to make a decision about relocation in the next five years.

Of the 115 Oakland nonprofits that primarily serve low-income communities of color that responded to the survey by Northern California Grantmakers, 87 percent said the current real estate market affects their organization. Fourteen Oakland nonprofits expected having to leave the city.

“That report really highlighted what the scope of the problem was,” said Sarah Frankfurth, manager of collaborative philanthropy for Northern California Grantmakers. “It painted a much starker picture than what people had anticipated.”

The group — which consists of about 30 representatives — identifies and helps foster affordable office spaces for nonprofits, helps nonprofits navigate leasing affordable spaces, and provides and identifies funding for nonprofits facing displacement. Some nonprofits are trying to purchase buildings, others are banding together in multi-tenant centers, Frankfurth said.

“There’s not one solution; it’s a complicated issue that’s going to take a lot of different strategies to have an impact,” Frankfurth said.

The group has long-term goals of supporting city and county policies that will secure affordable space for nonprofits.

“We need to be able to create policy changes that are either removing barriers for nonprofits requiring space or creating space,” Frankfurth said. “That might be in the form of some kind of community benefit agreement.”

The group will be launching an online resource center for nonprofits in early 2018.

One program to come out of the working group is the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, or CAST, supported by Oakland’s Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. CAST purchases properties occupied by Bay Area art nonprofits and holds them until the tenant can raise the money to purchase it back from the trust at cost.

Read the full story on the East Bay Times

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