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Linkage Center Opens In SF Tenderloin To Help People With Drug, Mental Health Issues

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN/CBS SF) -- As part of San Francisco Mayor London Breed's plan to address what she says is a state of emergency in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood, city officials on Tuesday opened up a first-of-its-kind Linkage Center.

The center, located at 1172 Market St., is equipped to serve up to 100 people at a time who are suffering from drug use and mental health issues, connecting with long-term and short-term services like health care and housing.

The center is part of the mayor's Tenderloin Emergency Intervention plan, introduced by Breed to address public drug use, overdose deaths, and crime in the neighborhood. The plan was approved by the city's Board of Supervisors late last month.

"Our work in the Tenderloin requires all of our city departments and community partners working together to address the major challenges we know exist," Breed said in a statement. "This is hard work, and I appreciate everyone joining in partnership to make a difference for the people of the Tenderloin."

Because of staff shortages, for now the center will operate between seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with limited staff. However, the center will ramp up to serve 100 people and stay open 24-hours daily in the near future.

In addition to connecting people with services, the center will also help people living on the streets with access to basic things like food, water, bathrooms, showers, and laundry, city officials said.

"A drop-in center where people can get off the streets and immediately linked to services, placements and care, without delay or bureaucracy is something we desperately need," Supervisor Matt Haney said. Haney, whose district includes the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, has been a strong advocate of helping people living on the streets gain access to basic necessities, like bathrooms and other services.

"The city is facing a deadly, devastating drug epidemic, and we must do everything we can to save lives and provide relief and healing to a part of the city that has been so heavily impacted," he said.

The center is being overseen by both the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the San Francisco Department of Emergency management, with collaboration from other city departments as well as several community organizations.

"Trying to move forward on the road to recovery is difficult and is even more challenging without support," SFDEM Executive Director Mary Ellen Carroll said. "San Francisco's emergency declaration made it possible to open this life-saving resource so quickly, but it was the tireless work and commitment of community partners and city staff that made it a reality."

The emergency plan is part of a broader effort by Breed to prioritize public safety in the city's downtown area.

Because part of the effort also includes an increased police presence, the plan has been met with criticism from community groups, homeless advocates, and some city officials.

© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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