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Locals furious with homeless shelter plan for 3 vacant storefronts

A city street with closed shops behind metal security gates, signs of urban life.
Three vacant storefronts at 418-422 Turk St. in the Tenderloin could be transformed into a homeless shelter and community space. But locals are pushing back. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

Tenderloin locals are frustrated over plans to build a new homeless resource center and shelter next door to a children’s park, where business owners and residents say they have just started to see improvements in recent months.

Plans filed with the city Friday by Moment X architecture studio show three vacant storefronts from 418-422 Turk St. would be transformed into a nighttime shelter for 20 people and a daytime “integrated community center.” The center would provide career training, showers and “community activities.”

While the studio filed the plans, the Filipino Community Development Corporation is behind the redevelopment effort.

Lorenzo Listana, the corporation's founder, said he wants to open the space by winter and that it would include hygiene services like free laundry, showers and toilets. Free dentistry and haircuts would also be included, along with individual case management services to help homeless people get into supportive housing.

Listana added that outreach efforts with the local community and homeless people had been ongoing since 2019.

San Francisco has struggled to meet the needs of people living on the city’s streets. On Monday evening, 169 people were on the waitlist for individual beds, and hundreds of families were in line for beds, according to the latest data available.

However, community leaders claim the troubled Tenderloin already hosts a disproportionate share of services for people suffering from homelessness, addiction and mental illness, contributing to its current woes. There were 128 shelters and subsidized housing facilities in the Tenderloin as of March 2022, according to data analyzed by The Standard.

Rene Colorado, who lives near the project location and runs the Tenderloin Merchant’s Association, told The Standard he wasn’t aware of the plan. Still, he immediately detested the idea of adding more facilities for homeless people in the area. 

“Services are needed, obviously,” Colorado said. “But I don’t agree with those services continually being concentrated in Little Saigon or the Tenderloin. It’s a big city, and I think they need to start looking elsewhere for these service centers.” 

Mohammed Hadeed, CEO of the SF OrganiCA deli on the corner of Turk and Larkin Streets, said the area's troubling street conditions have caused fewer employees from the nearby Federal Building to shop at his market.

“The problem is, is there going to be training and services to get people back into society?” Hadeed said. “[But] at the end of the day, they got to have somewhere to sleep for the night when it’s cold.”

A street corner with a large mural of flowers and birds on a building, next to a small fenced park and pedestrians.
The children's park at the corner of Hyde and Turk streets would be next door to the planned homeless shelter. | Source: Google Street View

Pratibha Tekkey, a coordinator for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, said she opposes the project. She argues it should not be built next to the Turk-Hyde Mini Park for children in an area that already struggles with crime. She also says the city should encourage small businesses to fill vacant storefronts in the Tenderloin.

Locals have said the coordinated drug crisis crackdown that began last May has improved the area around Hyde and Turk streets—even though there was a mass shooting in January and a man was stabbed to death near the proposed shelter’s location in March. 

“We’re done. We can’t have more and more of this,” Tekkey said. “We’re trying very hard to work with the city to make it safe.” 

Tekkey said a representative from the Filipino Community Development Corporation contacted her about the project a couple of weeks ago to try and engage community members.

‘Whatever it takes, we will do it’

The city had planned to fund an “urban rest and sleep center” run by the Filipino group at the location, but funding was pulled in January due to the city’s budget deficit, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

“Whatever it takes, we will do it, with or without the city’s support,” Listana told the newspaper. 

Listana said the new project would be funded by the corporation, the building owner, and a third party, Build Inc., who agreed to pay the rent for three years. Attempts to reach Build Inc. were unsuccessful.

An old building with a fire escape, boarded-up ground floor, parked cars in front, under a clear sky.
Three vacant storefronts at 418-422 Turk St. are right next to a children's park in the Tenderloin. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing said it’s not involved. Dan Sider of the Planning Department said the proposal will be heard at a project review meeting, which is the “very first formal step you can take toward a possible project.” 

The building is owned by Frederick O. Lewis III, an affordable housing developer who has “purchased, renovated and sold over $500,000,000 of California real estate,” according to his LinkedIn account. He didn’t respond to a request for comment before publication.

Lewis calls himself “the largest private property owner in East Oakland,” stating he renovates “the toughest buildings no other owners could touch.” 

Still, not everyone in the area was against the plans. 

“I think it will help the neighborhood a lot because there are a lot of people who are in need of simple necessities,” said Abdul Aziz Mohamed, who runs the Hyde-Turk Market.