The following comes from a February 8 SF Gate article by Kevin Fagan:
In a dingy little Tenderloin kitchen, two French-speaking nuns have devoted the past eight years to feeding the homeless, with their only income being what they eke out from selling handmade pastries at farmers’ markets.
The sisters of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen sleep in a tiny room in the back and do nothing but sell their baked goods and feed the needy. But that’s about to change.
The nuns are in danger of becoming as homeless as the downtrodden folks they help — the landlord, Nick Patel, is evicting them. He raised their rent by more than 50 percent, 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.”
Since founding their soup kitchen in one of the scruffiest stretches of the poorest neighborhood in town, the sisters have expanded to feeding lunch to 300 people three times a week, and dinner to 500 people twice a week.
“We don’t look for — what do you say? — publicity,” said Mary of the Angels. “We are only here to serve.”
The sisters’ lawyer, Daniel Fitzpatrick, said the building’s owner wants the nuns to pay the higher rent or leave. Fitzpatrick is fighting the eviction, pro bono, on the grounds that the soup kitchen is also the nuns’ residence because they sleep in the back.
Fitzpatrick said the rent was raised from $3,465 to $5,500 a month as of Jan. 15, and he advised the nuns to fight it. As it is now, he said, they can barely meet the lower rent by selling their pastries.