Some federal employees in SF asked to work from home amid drug, crime concerns: report

Lyanne Melendez Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Federal employees in SF asked to work from home amid crime: report
Some Dept. of Health and Human Services employees in San Francisco were asked to work from home amid drug and crime concerns, according to a report.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco has been dealt another blow as some federal employees have been told to work from home amid the crime and drug use outside of their building in the SoMa. The area of the Federal Building has been a hot spot for drug users and dealers who gather in plain site of security.

The moment we arrived on 7th Street and Mission, we found a group gathered in front of the federal building.

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Lyanne Melendez: "So you realize you're in front of a Federal Building and you're doing drugs."

First man: "They don't care."

Melendez: "They don't care, you say?"

Second man: "They said we can.

Melendez: "They said you can come and do it?"

Second man: "Yeah."

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Another man nearby showed us his paraphernalia which included aluminum foil and a straw typically used to smoke fentanyl.

Melendez: "Can you explain what this is? What's that?"

Man: "This is just fentanyl which I picked up from the ground."

He gave his two unused needles to another man next to him.

Melendez: "So are you using fentanyl or heroin here?"

Man: "No I shoot fentanyl and crystal together."

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That blasé behavior no longer surprises the security at the federal building. Guards occasionally come out to ask them to move. One guard told me off camera, that's all they can do.

"This is a daily occurrence," we asked him. "Yes, everyday," he responded.

So much so, that The Chronicle reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which has a regional office here, has told its employees to work from home "in light of the conditions at the federal building."

Supervisor Matt Dorsey lives nearby.

"We're not solving anything if we're not solving police staffing," said Dorsey who adds that he knows of another situation involving the daycare center used by federal employees here.

"They shared with me that they are doing everything they can to hire people to do childcare work and among 18-19 applications, a large majority of them decided they had no interest in working there once they found out where the location was," explained Dorsey.

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The federal government spent $3 million making "improvements" to the outside of the building which included a galvanized steel fence to keep the plaza free of drug users and the unhoused.

But it's clear to anyone that the benches outside provide people with a chance to gather and stay.

Jane, who is unhoused, says they are now being asked move more frequently.

"Not even the library allows it, so far this was the only spot that was safe for everybody," she tells us.

"When they gather in one place, I think the police go there and then they move to another spot, that's how it is," said a local resident.

Ricci Wynne, also a local resident has been using social media to document his experiences.

"When I would travel people would ask me where I was from. I'd say San Francisco and they'd be like, 'Oh it's such a beautiful place.' Now when I travel and tell people where I live and I say San Francisco, they ask me, 'Are you OK? Are you OK? It's wild out there isn't it.' We're definitely seeing a different version of San Francisco and this area," he said.

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