Filing this one under “Cruel and Heartless.”
When a person says “that’s something else,” it usually means precise descriptors are in short supply; it really means a person may not have the first clue as to what to say. As an example, San Francisco’s “Tenderloin” district: “That place is something else.” Perhaps the safest thing that can be said is that the Tenderloin is a place in need of help, as well as hope. So evicting nuns from another country who came here specifically to set up shop and feed the hungry and the homeless? Wow. That’s something else.
Sister Mary Benedicte and Sister Mary of the Angels are members of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth. The nuns’ Soup Kitchen has been feeding folks in the Tenderloin for the last eight years. The women sleep in the same facility where they feed those in need and sell baked goods.
The nuns are in danger of becoming as homeless as the downtrodden folks they help — the landlord is evicting them. He raised their rent by more than 50 percent [from $3,500 to $5,500], they can’t afford it, and the lawyers are fighting it out.
It looks like the nuns have about one month before they must hit the bricks. And practically everyone whose lives they have touched is incensed, from the hungry homeless to those who run other nonprofits.
“This is just crazy — I can’t believe it,” said Douglas Fennell, 60, who was waiting in line Monday with about 30 people for a lunch of sausage, mixed salad and cherry-topped cake. “Maybe someone is just trying to drive us homeless people away. I don’t understand.”
The nuns’ religious order was founded in France in 1977. It has a U.S. headquarters in Chicago. That’s where the two sisters were stationed before coming to San Francisco in 2008.
San Francisco’s battle over displacement and gentrification has been going on for several years. Black residents have been especially hard hit. Where do the folks go when they have to leave the homes they’ve known for decades? Not all of them end up in the Tenderloin, but some do. And if the nuns of the Fraternite Notre Dame are forced to leave, that’s one less helping hand in a place that needs as many as it can get.
For more info on the religious order or to help them out, check www.fraternitenotredame.org.