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Criminal Justice

Urban Alchemy Worker Shot in SF’s Tenderloin District, Second Incident in Two Months

Written by The Standard StaffPublished Apr. 29, 2022 • 5:04pm
A member of Urban Alchemy surveys activity while working on the corner of Hyde and Turk Streets in San Francisco on Feb. 23, 2022 | James Wyatt

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An employee of Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit whose “street ambassadors” patrol the city’s troubled Tenderloin district, was shot on Turk Street on Friday afternoon, officials said.

The shooting is the second in two months of an Urban Alchemy worker. A police spokesperson said in a statement that the victim was transported to a hospital. The suspect is at large. The shooting was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin and was briefed on the incident by police, confirmed that the victim was an Urban Alchemy employee and said he was in stable condition.

Urban Alchemy representatives did not respond to an email seeking comment as of press time.

In the wake of the previous shooting, The Standard reported that Urban Alchemy was performing what the state of California defines as security services, but without the licenses—and accompanying training—that would normally be required. 

The nonprofit often hires formerly incarcerated people who it says are well-equipped to help people on the streets, and many residents and businesses in the area say Urban Alchemy has been a positive presence. But others have raised concerns about lack of training and the often dangerous situations the workers can find themselves in.

Urban Alchemy, which was first launched in 2018, now has city contracts and grants worth more than $40 million to provide the street patrols and other services, including managing a new homeless shelter near Union Square. 

The organization and its executive director, Lena Miller, have declined to respond to repeated inquiries from The Standard. In an interview in the San Francisco Examiner published Thursday, Urban Alchemy official Jeff Kositsky, formerly the director of the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, called press scrutiny of the organization racist.

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The Standard Staff can be reached at [email protected]


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