A proposal to turn three vacant storefronts at Turk and Hyde streets into a homeless services center has some Tenderloin residents and businesses fuming, and saying that the Tenderloin is bearing the burden of too many of these facilities.

It was somewhat predictable back in 2019 when residents living near the Embarcadero protested a Homeless Navigation center being plopped in their neighborhood, as that area had not previously hosted many such facilities. The Tenderloin, on the other hand, has a high concentration of homelessness services, so you’d think more that sort of thing would be welcomed there.

Not necessarily. Last week the SF Standard reported on a plan for a proposed homeless services center and shelter and three long-vacant retail storefronts at 418-422 Turk Street, which would not be funded by the city, but instead by the nonprofit Filipino Community Development Corporation. Yet on Tuesday, the Chronicle reported that neighboring businesses and residents are pushing back hard against the shelter, and even calling for a neighborhood ban on converting retail spaces into shelters.

“We’d never think about doing this on Clement Street in the Richmond or 24th Street in Noe Valley,” Tenderloin Housing Clinic director Randy Shaw told the Chronicle. “We need a zoning change to ban retail conversions so this isn’t even in the realm of possibility.”

The proposed shelter would be more than just a shelter, though would provide 20 overnight shelter beds. In the daytime, it would provide access to laundry services, dentistry, haircuts, showers, and toilets, plus case management and career training. And again, these are vacant storefronts.

“This is not a thriving retail corridor,” David Elliott Lewis, co-chair of the neighborhood advocacy organization Tenderloin People’s Congress, said to the Chronicle. “Any use of the space is better than no use, and this is a very positive use.”

Ironically, rent for the space would be paid for by Build Inc., the developer behind the infamously rejected plan to turn a Nordstrom parking lot into a 27-story residential tower. (The future of that project is currently unclear). This Tenderloin site hopes to open by the end of the year, though community opposition seems to have momentum to halt it.

After all, that’s what happened with the proposed sober living center for the formerly homeless in Chinatown, which Mayor Breed canceled after community pushback. Some three blocks from this proposed Tenderloin shelter, a Little Saigon drop-in center that would similarly offer meals and showers and such was also “placed on indefinite pause” after too many neighbors complained.

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