San Francisco Mayor London Breed unveiled a plan to turn the tide against drug-related fatalities in the Tenderloin neighborhood, where overdoses exceed COVID-19 deaths, NPR reports. San Francisco had more than 1,360 overdoses in the past two years, mainly driven by an increase in fentanyl use. Her plan includes "tough love" for those who break the law and expanded help for those with substance use disorders, including like distribution of the life-saving opioid reversal drug Narcan. The expanded administering of Narcan brought down accidental overdoses by seven percent in 2021. Additionally, the city opened a "linkage center" with drug and mental health resources, shelter beds and eventually permanent housing as part of the plan.
The heavily gentrified community has become an example of inequality in the Bay Area. Breed's strategy differs from the city's previous efforts to reduce crime and poverty in Tenderloin, which were mainly driven by police sweeps of homeless encampments. Breed says, "Let's be clear, this city spends more money on social services in the Tenderloin community than any other community in San Francisco. So just pouring money into this or just doing the same thing is not going to give us a change." However, many business owners are calling for expanded policing and homeless people like Shy Brown are skeptical of the plan. "I just don't see that happening ... No its not gonna work."