The rent is too darn high for non-profits too, a headline from a Washington Post article last fall, is a story we at MRG can relate to right now. I found the article as I struggle with having to find new office space for MRG and think about how gentrification impacts our entire community. None of this information is new, it’s just another facet of a decades long problem.
For MRG, offices are places where our employees and volunteers come everyday to keep the work of the Foundation moving forward. When we were searching for a place six years ago, we knew it had to be accessible to our community and also envisioned it as a gathering place where progressive people working on racial and social justice issues could come together to share space, food, and insight. We found our current, centrally located, office in 2011 and worked with the landlord to install a ramp and update the bathrooms to increase accessibility. The space had a conference room we were able to share with our community and the rent was affordable at $2900 a month. We were recently told that to stay in our current offices, would cost us $5339.17 a month or about an 80% increase over where we started 6 years ago. This increase means that we have to make a change.
We know the stakes are completely different than for individuals and families that are pushed out of their homes; it also feels like the same people are being impacted – the people that MRG serves through supporting grassroots racial and social justice groups. We also know we are not alone in the non-profit world as I hear from partners that buildings are being sold, renovated, and rents hiked. No big news, just another reminder that gentrification is changing the fundamental landscape of our city. Judith Mowry from the Portland office of Equity and Human Rights sums it up well: “This is not a healthy, sustainable city; this is not who we want to be.”
As we search for our next space, we still want MRG to be a gathering place for community. If you know of an ADA accessible, transit friendly space that is healthy and light, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.