The Tenderloin Linkage Center took a one-day break to re-fence the area for privacy, but opened again Saturday, and now looks like it will stay in place for the rest of the year.
Mayor London Breed’s state of emergency declaration for the Tenderloin, intended to reduce overdoses and public drug dealing in the area, technically ended last Thursday. But the Tenderloin Linkage Center, the heart of Breed’s plan that offers referral services, homelessness services, and addiction treatment, still remains open at UN Plaza. Its lease runs through June, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to extend that through December 31, 2022.
Yet the Linkage Center took a day off at the end of last week. KPIX reports that the facility was closed Friday, though it did reopen on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. According to the Chronicle, “Trailers with showers and laundry that were parked along the sidewalk on Market Street will move inside the fenced-in area on U.N. Plaza” in a move that is now complete. The center’s clients had wanted more privacy, and the neighborhood’s residents didn’t like seeing the trucks that housed these showering and laundry facilities.
The Tenderloin Linkage Center is closed today for the following site enhancements for our guests and neighbors: laundry & shower relocation, site beautification, furniture upgrades, additional tents for guest privacy, and space expansion for social service connections. #TLC pic.twitter.com/uRaDIe2jXw— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) March 18, 2022
The SF Department of Emergency Management tweeted the above images while the center was closed Friday, and while they appear to depict very routine maintenance work, these are still rare images from the inside of the facility. And the media is not allowed inside the facility, particularly after news broke of open drug use within its confines. Site administrators do allow drug use, arguing this is effective as a harm reduction measure, critics cry that this is a total affront to the notion of recovery.
The center currently runs on an 8 a.m-8 p.m schedule, seven days a week. That will soon change to 16 hours a day (though no timeline has been offered on that transition), and it will eventually become a 24/7 facility. The Chronicle reports it will also add a “sober living room” for those who want to avoid the sights and sounds of drug use.
The national media will focus on what is essentially sanctioned drug use, but those of us who live in San Francisco have a different big-picture question about the center — Is this thing actually working? The answer to that depends on whose numbers you prefer. KPIX notes that “between Jan. 18 and March 7, the center had 15,612 visits, and of those, 3,268 people have been connected to resources such as housing or health care programs.” But the Chronicle points out how this “resulted in just over 180 ‘completed linkages’ to services, where visitors made appointments for services or were successfully welcomed into shelters.”
Image: @SFDEM_MEC via Twitter