SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Tenderloin Center, which serves as a resource to help people with substance abuse and provide housing, will close for good at the end of the year.
The funding for the center, which opened at the beginning of 2022, will instead be used to provide other forms of community assistance, according to San Francisco Mayor London Breed. The center’s location in a building in the UN Plaza has always been a short-term plan.
The Tenderloin Center has been controversial since its inception. Designed to serve as a safe harbor for those who are struggling with addiction, the center offers hot meals, showers and referrals to mental health and addiction treatment. But complaints began within 10 days of the center’s opening, as people were concerned about the amount of drug use occurring on site.
This environment “is not conducive to recovery itself,” said Tom Wolf, a recovering addict who was homeless in 2018. He added that the Tenderloin Center was doomed from the second it opened its doors.
“If you leave that center and go around the corner there’s a dozen drug dealers standing there waiting to sell them drugs,” Wolf said. “If you’re struggling with addiction, especially with illicit fentanyl, you need to use pretty much every two hours, so if you’re there in the facility and you see people using, you’re going to want to use too.”
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Last month, the city extended the lease for the Tenderloin Center, which is located on Market Street, through the rest of 2022.
According to Mayor Breed, the center’s services will end when the lease ends. She added that the next six months will be used to create a more long-term plan to provide overdose prevention and other health and human services support.
“The City remains committed to continuing the work of saving lives through overdose prevention and is undertaking a rapid planning process to take the best elements of the TLC to new programming in the community,” reads a statement released by Mayor Breed’s office. “The goal is to continue to partner with communities and the committed community providers to provide these services in ways that are effective and cost-efficient.”
The center has been operating at a high volume, serving about 400 people per day.
Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the District 5 which includes the area where the Tenderloin Center is, is disappointed that a replacement site was not announced when the closing of the Tenderloin Center became known.
“These are some of the most vulnerable folks in the city and in the Tenderloin who are struggling with drug addiction, mental illness, really all aspects of poverty,” Preston said.
Breed’s office said that the mayor’s proposed budget includes $4M for public realm improvements and will add staff dedicated to long term planning for the Tenderloin.