The area around the San Francisco Drug Recovery Liaison Center looks like an outdoor drug market


San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, known for its rampant drug addiction, is home to the city’s new Linkage Center. It aims to connect homeless people and drug addicts to basic services, like food and showers, and access information on how to get sober and get off the streets.

While some of this may happen, the scene around the center of Market Street is one of drug dealing and drug addicts passed out on the sidewalk. There are also numerous accounts of people shooting or smoking fentanyl inside the Linkage Center. (According to a city spokesperson, media are not allowed inside the center for privacy reasons).

San Francisco’s Tenderloin District is notorious for rampant drug addiction and homelessness.

It comes less than two months after the Mayor of London Breed announced a declaration of emergency in the Tenderloin and pledged to crack down on crime and drug use there.

“It’s time for the reign of the criminals who are destroying our city to end,” Breed said at a Dec. 14 news conference. She called for more law enforcement and policies that would be “less tolerant of all the bullshit – that’s destroying our city.”

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Fueling addiction?

But the scene outside the Linkage Center has some wondering if the services provided to end addiction are actually fueling it. At a press conference last month, Breed was asked why the city was condoning what appears to be a safe injection site.

“We have to choose our battles,” and at least help drug addicts, she replied.

Homeless people sit in San Francisco's Tenderloin District

Homeless people sit in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District

“The goal is to allow people who are suffering from addiction to come to this center, no questions asked, to get food, maybe shower, get help, get services,” Breed said. “But we’re not forcing anybody to do anything. And at the end of the day, you know, it’s a place where there’s no judgment, where there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

“We’re not forcing anyone to do anything. This is a place where there’s no judgement, where there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

– Mayor of San Francisco London Breed

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks outside City Hall, June 1, 2020. (Associated Press)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed speaks outside City Hall, June 1, 2020. (Associated Press)

But proponents of the takeover disagree. Tom Wolf was homeless and addicted to heroin and fentanyl, and only got sober after being arrested and forced into rehab. He’s a vocal critic of the city’s refusal to mandate drug treatment, and says allowing people to use drugs on a site aimed at combating abuse is like holding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. at the bar.

“How will anyone get help if they are allowed to use fentanyl on the site?” he asks.

“How will anyone get help if they are allowed to use fentanyl on the site?”

— Tom Wolf, critic of San Francisco’s refusal to mandate drug treatment

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Cornerstones of recovery

Wolf now has nearly 9,000 Twitter followers and offers tours for officials from other cities who want to see just how bad things are. He says holding people accountable for their behavior and having housing earned rather than distributed are cornerstones of recovery.

A homeless man sits in a San Francisco bus shelter in the Tenderloin neighborhood

A homeless man sits in a San Francisco bus shelter in the Tenderloin neighborhood

“We removed all accountability from the process, hoping to be more compassionate,” Wolf said. “But what we’re really doing is allowing people to continue hurting themselves and dying.”

“We removed all accountability from the process, hoping to be more compassionate.”

— Tom Wolf, critic of San Francisco’s refusal to mandate drug treatment

San Francisco recorded 650 overdose deaths last year, 700 in 2020. Recovery advocates say every one of those deaths was preventable.

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Today, millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on a center that resembles an open-air drug market, with no indication that will change anytime soon.


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