Supervisor introduces legislation to protect LGBTQ+ health center in the Castro

An LGBTQ+ mental healthcare facility may get a second chance after being threatened with eviction from its base in SF's Castro neighborhood, according to an announcement from the office of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. 

Ahead of San Francisco's Pride Month celebrations, Queer LifeSpace (QLS) announced that it is facing a potential eviction from its Castro space--the organization's home base for the past 13 years. 

Peskin introduced legislation for land-use controls that aim to protect the ‘critical’ health services side of the center. The legislation would prevent anything besides health or social services from being placed at the property without prior Planning Commission approval. 

San Francisco's Castro Neighborhood has long been a beacon for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly during pride month celebrations. QLS provides essential services to some of the most marginalized communities across the Bay Area, and the loss would leave a gaping hole for those patients. 

QLS offers mental health and substance abuse services to the LGBTQ+ community—all on a sliding scale for patients. The center also provides training to therapists who hope to become more LGBTQ+ competent. 

"People come from all over the Bay Area to the Castro seeking culturally-competent, high-quality, and affordable health care in a safe space. The pandemic combined with the rise of extremist right-wing groups and policies nationwide have had a profound impact on the queer community. We can’t afford to lose another queer space in the Castro or in San Francisco," wrote Queer LifeSpace Executive Director, Ryan MacCarrigan.

Peskin called QLS a "safe space in uncertain times," when announcing the legislation. 

"In this moment when commercial corridors are struggling to rebound from the pandemic, landlords should be embracing long-term small businesses that add community value, jobs, services, and neighborhood stability," Peskin said. 

Peskin's announcement comes just a day after the SF Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to make San Francisco a sanctuary city for people who are transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex, and Two Spirit—a Pan-Indian term describing people who are neither male nor female.