SF's Tenderloin Center closes Sunday, leaving most vulnerable without option for vital services

"They're taking it away and now we're going to have dirty needles. We're not going to have a place to use safely."

Tara Campbell Image
Sunday, December 4, 2022
SF's Tenderloin Center closes Sunday without a backup
San Francisco's Tenderloin Center closes without a backup. But Mayor London Breed plans to open up "wellness centers," offering similar services.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The City of San Francisco is shutting the doors of the Tenderloin Center on Sunday. Once seen as a key part to the City's battle against the drug overdose crisis - it now stands to close without a backup.

"I'm going to totally miss the Tenderloin Center," said PJ, just outside of the center at U.N. Plaza.

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He said the center gives him a safe place to use drugs, access to clean supplies and support in case he overdoses.

"They're taking it away and now we're going to have dirty needles. We're not going to have a place to use safely," said P.J.

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The Tenderloin Center opened in January, shortly after Mayor London Breed Declared a State of Emergency in the Tenderloin District.

According the Mayor London Breed's office, 300 overdoses have been reversed at the center, more than 200 people have been placed into housing and another 1,000 connected to shelters. It's also a place to get a free meal and warm shower.

"It makes absolutely no sense and it's been a real source of frustration," said Dean Preston, San Francisco Supervisor for the Tenderloin District. "We have been saying this since the mayor announced months ago she was going to close the center."

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The mayor's plan is to open more permanent facilities, dubbed "wellness centers" - offering similar services, but time has run out.

"The Board of Supervisors is on record urging the mayor to make sure there was no gap - either to stand up a new site or extend the Tenderloin Center - and she's not doing either."

RELATED: SF Mayor London Breed declares State of Emergency in Tenderloin due to drug crisis

The Mayor's office provided a statement, reading in part:

"After the closure of the TLC, the City will continue to partner with community organizations to prevent fatal drug overdoses, reduce open-air drug use in and around neighborhoods, and provide services such as behavioral health programs."

Darrel Arrington lives in the neighborhood and said he has mixed feelings about the closure. "I know it provides a lot of distractions for the community and the community doesn't want it here because it's an eyesore in a way, but also I think it's saving lives."

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