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Public Health

Photos of Life at the Center of San Francisco’s Drug Crisis

Written by The Standard StaffPublished Dec. 17, 2022 • 10:00am
A person hunched over on the sidewalk in the Tenderloin. | Jason Henry for The Standard

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With the closure of the Tenderloin Center, a safe drug-use site, the city is now grappling with how to address its drug crisis moving forward. With the mayor and supervisors pitted against each other in a battle to open more sites—or none at all.

Supervisors say safe use sites are essential for stopping rampant overdose deaths, but the Mayor’s Office says the federally illegal sites could cause the city huge legal problems.

Caught in the middle of the debate are everyday residents living in the Tenderloin and SoMa—the worst affected neighborhoods. 

The Standard commissioned photos of what living at the epicenter of the crisis is like.

Related: What Life Is Like at the Center of San Francisco’s Drug Crisis

A new apartment building offering ‘High-Tech Luxury Studios’ in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco on December 14, 2022. | Jason Henry for The Standard
A person rides past City Hall near UN Plaza. | Jason Henry for The Standard
A San Francisco Police officer talks with a person about a dispute at the farmers market at UN Plaza. | Jason Henry for The Standard
A person using drugs in the Tenderloin district. | Jason Henry for The Standard
Pedestrians, including children, pass people using drugs in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. | Jason Henry for The Standard
San Francisco Police Department officers attending to a matter along Seventh Street. | Jason Henry for The Standard
A memorial for someone in the Tenderloin. | Jason Henry for The Standard
Brenda Lopez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years. | Jason Henry for The Standard
Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, in her office in San Francisco. | Jason Henry for The Standard

Jennifer Friedenbach has worked in the Tenderloin for 27 years and is the executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

Friedenbach said the Tenderloin is the most impoverished neighborhood in the city and has had drug issues for decades.

“If affluent people are moving into an impoverished neighborhood, they should know what they are getting into,” Friedenbach said during an interview in the Coalition’s offices on Turk Street.

Friedenbach said that despite the neighborhood’s issues, it’s a tight-knit community that’s politically engaged.

“I think it is also a caring community,” Friedenbach said. “They know their supervisor, they have spoken at City Hall.”

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The Standard Staff can be reached at [email protected]


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