Mayor London Breed released details on Tuesday about what she and her team are calling a “linkage center” for the Tenderloin, designed to offer health and hygiene resources for people who are unhoused, suffering from addiction or otherwise struggling.
The city signed a $75,000 monthly lease for the site at 1170 Market Street on Dec. 31. The building stands in the heart of UN Plaza, a location the mayor’s office has indicated will be a central focus point for increased enforcement on street vendors and is the current home for one of the city’s safe sleeping villages.
The linkage facility, which Breed identified as a cornerstone of the high-profile “state of emergency plan” for the Tenderloin that she announced last month, will have a capacity of up to 100 clients and is scheduled to open in mid-January with an initial lease term of six months.
The reveal of the linkage center preceded a Tuesday hearing of the full board called by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who was absent and on vacation in Mexico during the initial 10-hour meeting on Dec. 23. The Supervisors remained steadfast in their interim support of the mayor’s plan during the hearing and motioned for another meeting to renew or concede their support on Feb. 8.
“This linkage center will provide immediate, accessible treatment and referral to long-term care for those who are addicted, unhoused, or at risk of overdose,” Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the troubled district, said in a statement. “It will absolutely save lives. And it will be a critically important step in moving us forward toward a neighborhood that is safer and healthier for all.”
Citing the mayor’s “make life hell” rhetoric for drug users and dealers, some critics of the emergency ordinance have said they suspect the center will be used to forcefully compel people into treatment. A group of protesters gathered in front of city hall shortly before the details of the center were announced, urging city officials to reverse the emergency declaration.
“We know what she means, she didn’t mince her words,” Supervisor Dean Preston, one of the plan’s two initial dissenting voters, said at the rally. “It follows a long line of mayors going back decades now who come to us with promises of tough love. They deliver on the tough part and not on the love part.”
The details of the plan revealed in a press release today indicate that SFPD has made 33 arrests for drug dealing in the last three weeks but that officers who encounter people on the street in need of services can call on social service workers to act as escorts to the linkage site.
According to the city attorney’s office, since the lease was already signed, the supervisor’s withdrawal would’ve only halted the hiring and implementation of services.
On Wednesday, the Budget and Finance Committee will vote on whether to move forward with a 250-bed emergency non-congregate shelter, which the mayor could have introduced regardless of the supervisors’ ratification of the state of emergency. If passed on Wednesday, the proposal must then go through a full board approval.
A representative from the Department of Public Health also assured the board that the emergency declaration would allow for the hire of up to 250 behavioral health workers before the plan’s expiration.David Sjostedt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.