An office building at U.N. Plaza is now the treatment services headquarters of Mayor Breed’s Tenderloin Emergency Declaration, which opened today with hopes of addressing the opioid and overdose situation in the TL.
There has been a curious gap between the Mayor London Breed’s media rhetoric about her Tenderloin Emergency Declaration (“all the bullshit that has destroyed our city,” "we are going to make life hell for them”) and her actual policy declarations on the matter ("gain access to a wide variety of resources from the City and its partners”). Well, today we begin finding out where the reality of this lies.
The heart of Breed’s plan is something called the Tenderloin Linkage Center, a “services-focused location where people can voluntarily find respite from the streets,” and the Chronicle reports that it opened today at 1170 Market Street, in an office building at U.N. Plaza.
San Francisco opened a seven-story linkage center at U.N. Plaza Tuesday to connect people in the Tenderloin to housing, drug treatment and other services.https://t.co/VOEjM8U5cI— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) January 18, 2022
To a passerby, this looks like the tents and fences that indicate a safe sleeping village site, though it apparently has indoor facilities. According to the tweet below from the Tenderloin’s supervisor Matt Haney, an outreach document bills it to people in need as “a safe place with food and water, hygiene services, and social support under one roof.”
Spent time at the TL Linkage Center today, a part of the Public Health Emergency, which will open officially tomorrow, operated by HR360, DEM, DPH, it'll provide direct care, services, treatment & placements, eliminating barriers to treatment access & stopping overdoses. pic.twitter.com/vKbJoIVzPg— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) January 17, 2022
Per the Chronicle's description, “up to 100 people at a time, plus staff, can stay inside. People won’t stay to sleep, but instead be connected to an overnight shelter.” The SF Standard has the video of the site below, and adds more context that “The site is inside the mayor’s new exclusion zone that strictly prohibits street vending in the area and is across the street from a safe sleeping village that was sanctioned under the COVID-19 emergency declaration.”
Here's a first look at the UN Plaza “linkage center” that’s part of @LondonBreed's Tenderloin emergency plan.— The San Francisco Standard (@sfstandard) January 15, 2022
The center will provide resources and referrals for clients suffering from drug addiction and mental health issues. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/Kj1vEIlzHg
None of this acknowledges the most contentious part of the plan, which is whether the Linkage Center is window dressing for a police crackdown (Supervisor Dean Preston called the plan “smoke, mirrors, and a lot of cops."). The mayor’s press release heralds “33 arrests made by SFPD for drug dealing related offenses in the last three weeks, including over 3,164 grams of fentanyl seized.” But those numbers may merely represent business as usual for the SFPD Tenderloin Station.
Look at the new San Francisco linkage center from a top view. pic.twitter.com/TKAs3kzCuy— Jessica M Perla (@JessicaMPerla) January 18, 2022
So the bottom-line question here is whether the Linkage Center’s treatment options will be largely voluntary, or if police will be telling people to choose between the Linkage Center and jail. Supervisor Matt Haney says in a statement, “This linkage center will provide immediate, accessible treatment and referral to long-term care for those who are addicted, unhoused, or at risk of overdose. It will absolutely save lives.”
Breed Haney, and proponents of the Emergency Declaration have been given the green light on this, and have laid down their markers. It is now on them whether or not this makes a visible difference in the state of affairs of the Tenderloin.
Image: @MattHaneySF via Twitter