The Tenderloin Center that started as the centerpiece of Mayor Breed’s Tenderloin Emergency Declaration will be wound down by year’s end, as Breed’s new budget yanks the funding for it.
SFist broke the news last month that the Tenderloin Center, originally called Tenderloin Linkage Center and meant as the one-stop services portal for Mayor London Breed’s Tenderloin “State of Emergency” declaration, had received a six-month extension and would remain open at least through December 31, 2022. But apparently it is now ‘Game Over’ after that date for the facility. The Chronicle just reported Thursday morning that the Tenderloin Center will close at the end of the year, as Breed has declined to fund it in her new proposed budget.
JUST IN: San Francisco’s Tenderloin linkage center, a building in UN Plaza where people can drop in and receive basic services, including substance abuse treatment and housing, will close in December. https://t.co/92Hcpv6RtW— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 16, 2022
Breed’s spokesperson Parisa Safarzadeh explained the discontinuation by telling the Chronicle that the temporary center was only meant as an “immediate intervention to stabilize the community in the short term while the city developed its longer term plans for the Tenderloin.”
"We were doing such amazing work and making connections with people and literally saving lives everyday. I can’t imagine turning those people away.— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) June 16, 2022
Tenderloin Center service providers are frustrated that the site will be closing after barely a year.https://t.co/KeebOl97gi
But as the Examiner explains, some of the service providers there say they were “gutted” by the news.
"We were doing such amazing work and making connections with people and literally saving lives everyday," HealthRIGHT 360 CEO Vitka Eisen told the Examiner. "I can’t imagine turning those people away. We’ve gotten to know these people."
But others acknowledged that all of the highly visible fence and tent optics may have been a little off-putting.
"The concept is wonderful, but you can’t operate knowing that this is causing so much discomfort to residents," Code Tenderloin founder Del Seymour told the paper. He added that he’s seen similar facilities in New York City that left him "amazed at how they gathered in a low key location. I walk past it twice and didn’t even know it’s there." That tactic has been iterated successfully before here too, that temporary Balboa Park RV triage center was practically invisible.
But even with the Tenderloin Center now eventually closing, its most controversial aspect is likely to live on. The city-sanctioned drug use via safe injection sites and similar facilities is still moving forward, despite the legal risks. The Chron adds that one of Breed’s proposed sobering centers is “scheduled to open next week.”
But it’s not clear if the Tenderloin Center’s other services, like hot meals and showers, would also continue on the same scale. That would set up a rather morally frustrating dynamic where the city could be prioritizing drug use services rather than actually feeding people and keeping them healthy. But we’ll see how it all shakes down, as Breed’s budget is still a proposal, and we could learn more about new investments in other support services.
Image: @SFHumanServices via Twitter