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Tenderloin Center, formerly known as a ‘linkage center,’ gets 6-month lease extension

A man named Virgil, last name not given, lines up for services at the Tenderloin Center, formerly known as the Linkage Center at Civic Center in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. | Camille Cohen

The controversial Tenderloin Center, which has evolved into a safe consumption site for drug use despite skepticism among some San Franciscans, will remain at UN Plaza at least until the end of the year.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a six-month lease extension for the formerly named Tenderloin Linkage Center. The extension will expire on Dec. 31, 2022 for a total of $450,000.

Opened in January 2022 as part of Mayor London Breed’s Tenderloin emergency declaration, the site was initially described as a place for those suffering from substance abuse or other issues to access treatment and social services, as well as other basic needs such as showers. However, the site has been largely unsuccessful in its original mission to link substance abusers with treatment—city data indicates that few people have been linked to services. 

More than half of San Francisco voters approve of the city operating a linkage center in the Tenderloin to provide homeless people with basic needs and connect them to housing and healthcare services, according to The Standard’s Voter Poll; however, many take issue with the idea of a “safe consumption site.”

The Tenderloin Center’s role as a de-facto safe consumption site puts the city in a tenuous legal position. Federal and state laws currently prohibit such facilities.

“I don’t think we would characterize the linkage center as the same thing as an overdose prevention site,” a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, Jen Kwart, said in an April 25 interview.

SFist was the first to report the news of the lease extension.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the year the Tenderloin Center opened; it was 2022.