Health/Fitness » HIV/AIDS

SFAF to Put Magnet, Other Programs at One Site

by Seth Hemmelgarn
Tuesday Oct 30, 2012
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San Francisco’s largest HIV/AIDS-related nonprofit has announced that it plans to move three of its key programs into one Castro neighborhood space.

In a Friday, October 19 news release, San Francisco AIDS Foundation officials said Magnet, Stonewall Project, and Stop AIDS Project will move services into 474 Castro Street. As part of the effort, which is expected to allow for an increase in HIV testing, the nonprofit will work to raise an estimated $7 million. Rumors have circulated for years that the foundation wanted a larger space to consolidate its various programs in a Castro location.

In an interview this week, Neil Giuliano, the foundation’s CEO, said his agency wants to be "visionary," and the future is about health and wellness, rather than disease and sickness. The foundation aims to help people "lead a healthy life," he said.

Advances in treatment are helping people with HIV and AIDS live longer, and the foundation’s statement says a study indicated the new facility would "rapidly" accelerate efforts "to make new infections incredibly rare in San Francisco."

According to the foundation, San Francisco has one of the country’s largest HIV-positive populations, and 20 percent of gay and bi men in the city are living with the disease.

Giuliano said the annual rent on the new location is from about $150,000 to $170,000 more than what the foundation currently pays on the rent for the three programs combined. The rent on the new space will be $31,000 a month.

The increased costs are worth it, Giuliano said, "because we have to test more people."

He said Magnet, the gay men’s health center which provides HIV testing and other services, would probably leave its 4122 18th Street location by the end of September 2013, which is when the center’s lease is up.

Magnet would have to move anyway, Giuliano said. He also said the site is "simply way too small," and moving Magnet alone would have meant an increase in rent.

Magnet will probably have close to 15,000 clinic visits this year, Giuliano said. He referred to the need to find people who are HIV-positive but don’t know it.

"We need to keep testing at a very high number," he said.

The agency will be "increasing capacity from a testing standpoint in a very large way when we move into the new space," he said.

The total square footage of the new facility will be twice the combined size of the other three sites, which are also located in the Castro.

Stonewall, which focuses on substance use among gay and bisexual men, and Stop AIDS are on month-to-month leases.

Giuliano said renovations on the new facility would be completed and the foundation would be ready to move services into the building by September or October 2013 "if everything goes as planned."

The site is currently home to Superstar Satellite video store. George "Jorge" Maumer, who owns the shop, as well as the building housing the Castro Country Club nearby, will be the foundation’s landlord, Giuliano said. Maumer wasn’t available for comment for this story.

Fundraising

In last week’s statement, foundation officials said they must "identify significant philanthropic support from the community in order to ensure programmatic success."

Giuliano said, "Overall, the campaign is going to be in the $7 million range," though a final amount hasn’t been set. That money would be used to cover costs such as approximately $1.5 million for the difference between the new and old rents for the first 10 years of the lease, programmatic expansion, and building out the new space. The lease is for 10 years with an option to renew.

The estimated $7 million figure includes money the foundation plans to borrow. Giuliano expressed confidence his agency would be able to borrow funds at 1.75 percent to 2 percent interest, so "it makes sense" to go that route rather than take the money out of the nonprofit’s monthly cash flow.

A feasibility study for the fundraising project is being conducted. The timeframe for the campaign is three years. Giuliano indicated the public fundraising campaign would be under way in mid-2013.

Approval needed

The project will include the first and second floors of the Castro Street building, with the exception of Blush wine bar, at 476 Castro Street.

Due to the size and scope, the Board of Supervisors has to approve the project, and the foundation will also make presentations to Merchants of Upper Market and Castro and other groups.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the district, said in the foundation’s statement, "I’m excited to see plans for yet another innovative approach to tackling HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and I look forward to engaging our entire community as those plans continue to take shape."

For more information about the foundation, visit http://www.sfaf.org.

Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.ebar.com

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