Juliana McNeill greeted the crowd of reporters in the living room, excited to talk. McNeill is one of 400 people a day who regularly use the Tenderloin Center, the Mayor London Breed connectivity site set up earlier this year as part of the Tenderloin crackdown and efforts to connect homeless people with services.
For the first time since the establishment of the Tenderloin Health Center at 1170 Market Street in January, city officials allowed the media to tour the facilities on the ground floor. Since its opening, the center has had about 400 regular visitors and all guests have spoken of about 46,343 visits, said Christa Gaeta, the center’s interim director and former deputy director of the nonprofit Tenderloin Housing Clinic.
The center was closed during a press tour, making it impossible to see homeless people using the resources. The only guest present was McNeill, who was clearly enthusiastic.
The center does not accept guests for overnight stays, but offers many services such as hot meals, laundry, showers, recommendations for housing and a place for safe drug use, all of which are managed by various city departments and non-profit employees.
McNeill, who used to live on the streets of Auckland and is now likely to be in San Francisco, said the Tenderloin Center gave her food, hygiene kits and staff found permanent housing.
“I came here and they hugged me,” McNeill said. “I am building myself up again [and] my trust in people. The staff really helps you. I couldn’t be happier. ”
Satisfied with the service, McNeill tells other homeless women to visit the center. “Come and get a bus ticket. Come and settle down. Come and get everything you need, because no one else will hug you like San Francisco – not Berkeley, not Richmond, not Auckland.
It is not clear how many of the regular guests are among the homeless population of San Francisco.
The center is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm, except on Thursdays, when it is open from 11 am to 8 pm for staff training. Guests line up in front of 1170 Market St. opposite the Civic Center BART station next to a fence marked with signs and information “Tenderloin Center”. Once inside, guests go through a “low barrier” check and store items in bins with the non-profit organization Urban Alchemy. Large items such as bicycles are stored on the upper floors.
There are small offices in the corridor directly to the right of the check-in area, where guests can contact the services. The rooms employ employees of urban and non-profit organizations – many of whom have also experienced drug use, homelessness or imprisonment.
One office is dedicated to the Department of Homeless and Maintenance Housing, which has so far accommodated 1,064 guests in shelters or permanent housing. Recently, a woman who was a victim of human trafficking was placed in a domestic violence shelter on the same day, according to officials.
Other offices house Urban Alchemy, and another provides a one-stop shop where guests can get job referrals, food stamps and MediCal.
As of April 22, the center had booked 185 visitors to these one-stop shops, Gaeta said; there are a total of 2,913 links of all kinds.
Code Tenderloin, a non-profit organization founded by Del Seymour that has not been accommodated before, sets up guests with case management and enrolls guests in a computer literacy course. Non-profit staff also work with ex-detainees and sometimes act as “mediators” for parole and keep guests watching court dates, said Code Tenderloin CEO Donna Hilliard.
Next in the building is the living room, which seemed designed to give both resources and a sense of community. Counselors present in the living room help guests with sobriety and recovery through wellness activities such as writing diaries and support groups. Brightly colored paper lanterns, a public board, a library, a TV and comfortable-looking chairs greet visitors, as well as drug boxes and water bottles.
McNeill finds the living room great. “It’s a place to relax and you can come and be yourself,” said McNeill, standing in front of framed posters reading “EMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES: THIS IS HOME.”
Outdoors is a large courtyard, where in one corner guests can use drugs under the supervision of staff. It has fewer resources than a safe consumption site, but staff called 911 and used Narcan on guests during an overdose. About 85 changes have taken place so far and staff have distributed a total of 898 doses of naloxone. Guests prefer to use it in the yard instead of on the streets, where it may be less safe or more stigmatizing, Hilliard said. No one is forced to “detoxify” or get help until they are ready.
In San Francisco, 1,310 died of drug overdoses in 2020 and 2021. Narcan prevented much more.
Opposite the area where people use drugs, there is a circle of colorful sunbeds where guests hang out and drugs are banned. There is a sign nearby with all available daily services. According to city data, the guests took 4661 showers, sent 1474 refills and ate 32 460 dishes (there are three offered daily).
Last winter, Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency in Tenderloin, where there were problems with the open drug trade, homelessness and crime. The Tenderloin Center, formerly known as the Tenderloin Liaison Center, has begun to work as a partial emergency solution.
But these problems still abound in other parts of the fillet. Early on Thursday morning, people experiencing homelessness, cigarette trafficking and drug use are still hanging out at the edge of the Civic Center BART station. It is not clear what the effect of the emergency and its additional police and security is.
Breed also provided $ 1 billion to tackle homelessness, most of which was raised through proposal C.
San Francisco currently has 7,750 unoccupied people, down from previous years thanks to services. City officials said about 70 percent of San Francisco’s uninhabited population is local.