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A San Mateo county official is proposing low-interest building-acquisition loans to assist non-profit organizations suffering from skyrocketing rents on Silicon Valley’s northern edge.

On Sept. 12, county manager John Maltbie will bring the idea before the San Mateo Board of Supervisors. Should it pass, non-profit agencies that have contracts with San Mateo County would be allowed to apply for loans up to $1 million. The county’s $18 million contingency reserves would finance the loans.

The reserves are normally earmarked for emergencies, but Maltbie says non-profits in San Mateo County are in a crisis. As rents continue to skyrocket and space grows ever harder to find, non-profit agencies seeking to help others are finding themselves in need of less expensive shelter.

Two of those groups – the Women’s Recovery Association and Shelter Network, both of Burlingame, Calif. – are going before the county board of supervisors Sept. 12 to request a $750,000 loan to purchase office space. The groups, which provide services for battered spouses and children, seek to buy an area 10,000-square-foot building for $3.6 million.

There are an estimated 18,000 non-profit agencies in the Bay Area, but currently few programs exist to help them find and retain affordable office quarters. In San Francisco, Supervisor Michael Yaki says he will introduce an ordinance giving incentives to developers who reserve a part of their office projects for the city’s non-profits.

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