Progress on the Tenderloin Plan
While all of San Francisco has been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, the virus has exacerbated preexisting conditions in some neighborhoods leading to even greater impacts. San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is particularly vulnerable: the neighborhood is densely populated, has many residents residing in congregate housing, and is home to many individuals experiencing homelessness who are at a heightened risk of infection and have lower access to health care services than other residents.
To address these unique challenges and provide much needed support to Tenderloin residents, the City partnered with community leaders to develop the Tenderloin Neighborhood Safety Assessment and Plan for COVID-19. This page provides data and updates on our collective efforts to carry out this community-oriented plan.
Background & Collaborative Assessment
The Tenderloin is an incredibly diverse and vibrant neighborhood. It is home to:
- one of the largest African American populations in the City;
- multi-generational households from Yemen, Latin America, the Philippines, and other regions;
- an active LGBTQIA community and the first legally recognized transgender district in the world; and
- dozens of historic businesses, organizations, and advocacy groups.
In addition, social factors related to poverty, systemic racism, substance dependency, and lack of shelter have contributed to challenging street conditions and have driven the City’s urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on input from community-based organizations, this response centers on human dignity, racial equity, public health, and safety.
With strategic direction from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Tenderloin Community Roundtable, the Healthy Streets Operation Center (HSOC) and more than fifty City staff, nonprofit employees, and volunteers conducted a block-by-block assessment of the neighborhood to identify the most pressing health, safety and quality of life conditions. The map to the right shows the priority zones established in the plan.
Going forward, community stakeholders are members of working groups that meet weekly to inform the implementation of the plan. This ensures City staff, community-based organizations, and community leaders continue to collaborate and coordinate efforts.
High-level measures related to the implementation of the plan are shown below. All data shown for the Tenderloin as a whole is using this standard boundary for the Tenderloin Neighborhood. This page will be updated as implementation progresses and more data becomes available.
Response efforts focus on these areas:
Plan Recommendations: Improve access to hygiene stations, restrooms, syringe disposal, and garbage disposal for unhoused individuals; address emerging rodent issue by controlling waste and through other direct efforts
Poor sanitation is linked to the transmission of numerous diseases, including COVID-19. Ensuring that streets are clean, housing conditions are sanitary, and restrooms and water are available are top priorities. To implement this recommendation, the City has added Pit Stop restrooms, potable water spigots, handwashing stations, big belly trashcans, and additional street cleanings in the Tenderloin.
See the Pit Stops, water spigots, and showers shown on the map above. Each Pit Stop is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and includes toilets, handwashing station, trash cans, doggy bags, and a syringe disposal box.
Public Works has increased staffing within the Tenderloin, including specific crews to clean streets and steam clean sidewalks during all shifts (day, swing, and night shifts). Public Works also has a Tenderloin-specific hot spot crew focused on cleaning and steaming around encampments every morning, seven days per week; and an alley crew that uses special equipment to steam clean alleyways during the night shift. Learn more about Public Works cleaning operations in District 6. In addition, The Department of Public Health has also increased their syringe collection program in the priority areas outlined in the Tenderloin Plan.
Coming soon: mapped locations of handwashing stations in the Tenderloin.
Plan Recommendation: Address encampments by offering safe sleeping alternatives to unsheltered individuals
When the pandemic hit, the City made social distancing in congregate settings a priority by moving individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 into hotel rooms. However, public health policy in the early days of the pandemic meant intakes into shelters halted. This resulted in the loss of 75% of previous occupancy in congregate settings and a more than 400% increase in tents in the Tenderloin. While new policies are being implemented to allow safe intakes into shelters, this pause in intakes had tremendous impacts.
As most congregate shelters in the City’s homeless response system are in or near the Tenderloin, this neighborhood has seen significant impacts from this gap in the system. To respond to the crisis and implement this recommendation from the plan, the City and community team has taken a human-centered approach to ensure residents have safe and clean places to sleep, including some new strategies like safe sleeping sites and villages, and focused outreach to bring vulnerable unsheltered individuals into hotels.
Safe sleeping sites are safe, designated locations where residents in tents can sleep off the sidewalks and safely distanced from others. Guests have access to garbage services, a porta potty, and there is security at each site 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Safe sleeping villages have additional services available within the health and homeless response systems. These safe sleeping efforts aim to implement health guidelines in a dignified way to keep unsheltered individuals safe during the pandemic and maximize the number of resident that have a safe place to sleep and Shelter In Place.
In order to track the success of safe sleeping efforts, the City is partnering with Urban Alchemy to conduct a daily tent count in the Tenderloin. As the City works with partners to ensure all residents have a safe place to sleep (in a safe sleeping site, a hotel, a shelter, or more permanent housing), this tent count is expected to decrease. The tent count data is shown to the right.
Plan Recommendation: Increase education and outreach to residents and businesses through a community care ambassador program
To implement this recommendation, Code Tenderloin and Downtown Streets Team, two local nonprofit organizations that serve unhoused individuals through workforce development, have partnered to build a network of trained Tenderloin ambassadors who are currently homeless or who have previously experienced homelessness. The primary goal of this program is to ensure that public safety and health orders are being received and observed by unhoused Tenderloin residents, especially as it pertains to social distancing. There are approximately 25 CARE Ambassadors engaged in community outreach Monday through Friday. The ambassadors are recruited from the community and work to build trust with residents, refer residents into safe sleeping sites, provide basic needs items, and respond to the emerging needs of our unhoused community. Contact the CARE team with any questions.
In addition, there are numerous organizations that are continuing outreach throughout the Tenderloin: the Homeless Outreach Team; the Department of Public Health’s Street Medicine Team, the Felton Engagement Specialists Team, the Community Health Response Team, Glide, and others.
Plan Recommendations: Ensure that all residents, housed and unhoused, have safe passage and access to their homes and businesses; Increase police presence and activate community care ambassadors to mitigate public safety concerns; Facilitate social distancing compliance by closing streets and limiting parking
Safety for all Tenderloin residents continues to be a top priority during the emergency response efforts. Collaboration between the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), community leaders, and residents is a top priority to ensure increased safety efforts consider all resident perspectives. To implement the first two recommendations listed above, SFPD has maintained their focus on preventing drug dealing and other criminal activity in the Tenderloin.
The dashboard to the right shows data on police incidents in the Tenderloin. This data contains all incidents that have a police report, which means certain categories may be undercounted (where the police is not often called), and changes in the data may be reflective of changes in reporting and/or changes in the number of incidents.
Pedestrian safety is also a high priority, particularly as pedestrians need more space in order to physical distance in the neighborhood. To implement the recommendation listed above, the SFMTA has worked to close streets to cars or parking in certain areas to allow more room for pedestrians. Read more about the specific changes in the Tenderloin and the Slow Streets Program.
Plan Recommendation: Address food and water insecurity for housed and unhoused residents alike
Food distribution is a critical piece of the COVID response effort as access to food is limited and the pandemic made it even more difficult for vulnerable populations to safely access nutritious meals. The Salvation Army, via the Meals in Place Program, is delivering meals daily to residents experiencing homelessness in the Tenderloin. In addition, there are also other community-based organizations delivering meals to unsheltered residents. The City continues to partner with community-based organizations to ensure all residents have access to food while sheltering in place and staying safe. Learn more about citywide food support programs and view a map of food resources.
This page includes high-level measures on the progress toward implementing the Tenderloin Plan, but it does not capture all the work being done by the City and community-based organizations to ensure that all residents in the Tenderloin are safe and healthy during this pandemic. More data will be added as it becomes available.
Testing Data: The Department of Public Health has worked to increase COVID-19 testing access by offering mobile testing sites in the Tenderloin. More data on testing will be coming soon.