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Closure of SF's Controversial Tenderloin Linkage Center Creates New Issue for the City

San Francisco’s controversial Tenderloin Linkage Center at the UN Plaza closed this week. 

It was put together as part of an emergency response to a spike in overdoses in the city, but it was also criticized by those who said it was an unofficial safe injection site for drug addicts. 

Security guard Ten Dorji said people gathered at the plaza Friday, seen using drugs or looking for shelter, used to be regulars at the Tenderloin Linkage Center.

“Yeah, it just closed recently, Dec. 4,”said Dorji. “So now they just got nowhere to go, just hang around the plaza and get high off the dope.”

The fencing for the city’s Linkage Center is supposed to be completely removed by Monday.

Until recently, the city had operated the Linkage Center as a place for people to get a warm shower, food, and get connected with city services.

Critics have called it a disguised safe injection site and pushed hard for its closure

Now, as a growing number of addicts and people in crisis crowd into the plaza, the city is facing a new problem.  

How can it make the area safe for the general public again? 

The effort will start with the city imposing an 8 p.m. curfew beginning Monday. Something progressives have called a cruel move targeting those with no alternatives. 

Supervisor Dean Preston, who now represents the Tenderloin, is a critic of the city’s plan to close down the Linkage Center.

“Four-hundred people each day were coming to the Tenderloin center,” he said. “That will tell you that there is a need. And the word was really getting out there, which is great. People were coming to this center, so it makes absolutely no sense to just shut it down before replacing it.”

The San Francisco Department of Public Health had planned on opening smaller linkage  sites across the city.

But that plan appears to be in limbo. 

However, a statement from Mayor London Breed’s office said that’s still the overall plan, “This includes our continued work to explore how we can push forward innovative strategies around overdose prevention. Which includes navigating barriers at the state and federal level that still exist.”

As workers at the shuttered center tried to guide regulars to other city services, Supervisor Preston is pushing city government to come up with other sites as soon as possible.

“By shutting it down with no replacement, people will lose their lives as a result of that reckless decision,” said Preston.

The mayor’s office and department of public health did not give a timeline when any new site will be opening.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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