SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Officials with the City of San Francisco announced a plan to address worsening conditions in the Tenderloin during the coronavirus pandemic, following a lawsuit calling for the cleanup of “deplorable conditions” and removal of a growing homeless encampment.
Mayor London Breed announced the plan to improve conditions in the neighborhood, focusing on the most impacted 13 blocks, with a goal of expanding to the other 36 blocks in the district.
“We are committed to ensuring our most vulnerable neighbors are safe and have access to the resources they need to stay healthy during this public health crisis,” Breed said in a statement. “This plan was informed by an on-the-ground assessment of the current challenges in the Tenderloin and with input from the community, and our City employees and nonprofit partners who are out there every day interacting with and serving the people who are experiencing homelessness.”
Among the plan’s main goals include addressing encampments by offering “safe sleeping alternatives” and improve access to hygiene stations, restrooms and trash disposal to the unsheltered, along with closing streets and limiting to facilitate social distancing. The plan also looks to increase police presence and health services in the Tenderloin.
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The city’s plan comes as a group of residents, local business owners and the University of California Hastings College of the Law filed a lawsuit over conditions in the area. According to the lawsuit, an encampment has grown to nearly 400 makeshift dwellings between March and May, as the city sheltered-in-place due to the coronavirus.
The suit alleges that by allowing sidewalks in the Tenderloin to be taken over by drug sales, crowds of drug users and homeless tent encampments, the city is threatening the health and lives of Tenderloin residents and helping drive merchants out of business.
“Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the de facto policy of the City and County of San Francisco to use the Tenderloin community as a containment zone had resulted in a dramatic decline in the livability and safety of the neighborhood,” the complaint states. “The deplorable conditions tolerated by the City in the Tenderloin are not permitted in other neighborhoods in San Francisco.”
The suit also claims the conditions pose the threat of a massive COVID-19 outbreak.