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Tenderloin Center, Formerly Known as a ‘Linkage Center,’ Gets 6-Month Lease Extension
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Tenderloin Center, Formerly Known as a ‘Linkage Center,’ Gets 6-Month Lease Extension

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.

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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.

  • I can’t understand why they’re not using the building they leased to provide some of these services? They’ve taken UN Plaza and made it look like a tent city. Who are they connecting to what?

  • Does anyone else find it sad and ironic to read this news in juxtaposition with yesterday’s “To Breathe Life Into SF’s Moribund Downtown, Breed Proposes New Help for Small Businesses”? I come to the City once a week, at mid-day, for a volunteer gig. I use the Civic Center BART station and transfer to the 19 Polk. As I walk up the stairs to the street, then to the bus stop, I weave my way through transactions which have all the outward appearances of open-air drug sales. It’s worthy and commendable to provide safety for addicts, but what about the rest of us? The Urban Alchemy ambassadors are omnipresent and cordial, but they really can’t do anything to impede the dealers and their customers. What if some of these vendors start shooting at each other and an uninvolved bystander is injured? Every week I dread the unpleasantness and consider whether to stop volunteering downtown because of it. Don’t the City’s policy-makers see any linkage (get it? Linkage?) between the ambience around Civic Center and the unwillingness of workers to come back? How about bringing the dealers into the Tenderloin Center, letting them sell on site, and moving them out of the public space?

  • “What about the rest of us?” Well said. The mayor dumped an illegal drug consumption site right at the civic center BART after lying about its purpose. There is zero accountability for the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that support it. Other publications report that the numbers of people “linked” with services is less than 1% of those who show up.

    Who wants to go back to work downtown or attend any events there with the city-sanctioned crime? Our public spaces have been given over to the homeless and drug addicted. I want to see San Francisco enforce its quality of life laws again. But I don’t see this happening in my lifetime. It is time to sell and move on.

  • If you are not supporting the Honduran drug dealers, you are a white supermacist republican voter. Their lives are far more important. If we arrest them, their families in Honduras would be in danger. We cannot have that now can we?

  • @Lynda why are you even volunteering? They don’t need your help. SF pays $800++ a month to drug addicts. How much more do you want to contribute? California has $90 Billion in excess money and democrats just blocked decreasing the price of gasoline. Aren’t you paying enough? Do you really want to be crime statistic in SF?

  • @Karly: I’m not volunteering for anything having to do with my post. My volunteer job is with a nonprofit which has no relation to City government or municipal policy or addicts or addiction. I just travel through the Tenderloin to get there.

  • In the interest of fairness and accuracy, I have an update following my post yesterday:

    I came into the City yesterday via BART, exiting the Civic Center station about 12:40 pm. I was astonished to find that the bus shelter on Market at Hyde/Grove had been removed, along with its seats. The stairwell from the station to the sidewalk, and the sidewalk itself, were completely open, free of any pairs or clusters of folks engaged in transactional activity. The plaza in front of the Orpheum was empty of people. The only people at the bus stop actually were waiting for the bus. It was amazing.

    My return trip around 5:00 pm was equally refreshing — the people around the station entrance were actually entering the station.

    Can’t say whether it was causation or coincidence, but it was certainly a welcome change. I hope nobody decides to put that bus shelter back.

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