Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Agency that helps sex workers raises fundraising goal

In this 2014 photo, St. James Infirmary's Executive Director Stephany Ashley, left, helps set up the needle exchange program with Dee Michel. Photo: Rick Gerharter

In this 2014 photo, St. James Infirmary’s Executive Director Stephany Ashley, left, helps set up the needle exchange program with Dee Michel. Photo: Rick Gerharter

St. James Infirmary, the San Francisco nonprofit that provides free medical care, food, and other assistance to sex workers, has raised its fundraising goal as it seeks a new home in one of the country’s most competitive real estate markets.

The organization is being forced to relocate as Mercy Housing California, the agency that owns St. James’ Mission Street building, is selling the property. The prospective owners aren’t renewing the nonprofit’s lease.

St. James, which has to be out of 1372 Mission by early January, recently launched a Gofundme campaign with a goal of raising $25,000 in 30 days. That goal was quickly surpassed, as the agency brought in more than that in just three days.

Monday, St. James Executive Director Stephany Ashley posted a note on the crowdfunding site saying that her group was raising its goal to $40,000.

“The outpouring of love and support for our relocation efforts continues to astound and inspire us,” Ashley, who identifies as queer, said.

She said that another set of donors is pledging $10,000 in matching funds.

“We now have 10 weeks left to secure a site, renovate, and relocate our operations in order to reopen without disruption to service,” Ashley said. “With those 10 weeks being right in the middle of the holiday season, it’s going to be a tight turnaround! To ensure that we can pull it off, we are increasing our grassroots fundraising goal to $40,000. This money will allow us to cover our construction and relocation costs without having to drain resources from our programs or staffing budget.”

St. James’ total budget is $750,000.

As of Wednesday, the nonprofit had made more than $30,000 through the online campaign. An anonymous donor is matching the first $25,000, bringing the total raised so far to more than $55,000.

Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, which helps transgender people who are incarcerated and shares office space with St. James, plans to move with the group.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 5, 2015 @ 11:15 am PST
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