SF closes Tenderloin Center. What's next for 400+ people who received services everyday?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
SF closes Tenderloin Center - what's next for city's drug epidemic?
San Francisco's Tenderloin Center, which offered shelter, food or substance use treatment, officially closed after nearly a year of being in service.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Tenderloin Center officially closed after almost a year. But why?

On Jan. 18, Mayor London Breed announced the Tenderloin Linkage Center. Fast forward to almost a year later - now the city closed it.

"This has been something we've been demanding from the mayor for months. If you are going to close the Tenderloin Center, we understand. It was always meant to be temporary, but we have hundreds of people every day who are relying on this center for services and for help," said Dean Preston, city supervisor.

According to San Francisco's Department of Public health, over 400 people visited the site everyday. Many for housing assistance, shelter, food or substance use treatment -- depending on who you asked the center was considered helpful or not.

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"I used to go there for meals," said Larry Harding who also got help at the center for housing.

"I have mental health issues and they don't even help us. If I'm not on drugs, they don't do anything man," said David Anderson, who is homeless in San Francisco.

"You know everybody gets high. They had a safe place for you to get high without getting robbed," said Bernes Tamsey, formerly homeless.

According to the CEO of Health Right 360, over 300 overdoses were reversed at the center. Now, Eisen is fearful many will overdose without anyone to help them in the area.

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"I think saving 350 lives is a pretty significant metric for health improvement because people who are dead are never given an opportunity for recovery or reengaging with family," said Vitka Eisen, CEO of Health Right 360.

Dr. Hillary Kunins, SFDPH's director of Behavioral Health Services and Mental Health, said the center was always meant to be a temporary space.

"The Tenderloin center was also slated to be a temporary program, unfortunately the lease was up at the end of the year and we are aggressively seeking ways that we might be able to continue this service while putting into place service navigation during this period immediately following the closure," said Dr. Kunins.

There is no clear date as to when the city will have a hub or a similar site available. On Monday, city volunteers were giving out pamphlets with places in the area where people can get resources for now.

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