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San Francisco Business Owners Say City is Getting Worse for Restaurants Amid Homeless Crisis

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Homelessness and the migration crisis are two of the major problems facing the United States of America at the moment. In cities like New York and San Francisco, they feel the full-scale impact of these problems. 

In February, a neighborhood called Little Saigon in San Francisco will open a drop-in health and resource center” that will provide health services for the homeless in the city’s Tenderloin district. However, the city’s residents, especially restaurant owners, oppose this move. 

According to these business owners, the homeless crisis is hurting its local restaurants, and the health center might only make it worse. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on this issue, citing the residents’ reservations. 

In their article, they referred to Little Saigon as “one of the few commercial corridors in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood where nearly every block is impacted by homelessness, open drug use, and mental illness.”

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It continued, citing the new health center that is in the works. “In February, the San Francisco Community Health Clinic is expected to open a drop-in health and resource center at 645 Larkin St. — the former storefront of Turtle Tower, a longtime Vietnamese restaurant that shuttered last year,” the paper reported. 

“The city’s Department of Public Health has entered into a $1 million contract with the Community Health Clinic to provide health services to housed and unhoused Tenderloin residents.” The agency also interviewed some restaurant owners in the district to get their opinions on the issue. 

Pinyo Charoensuk, the owner of Lapats Thai Noodles Bar, told The Chronicle directly that he does not like the idea. “If I had my choice, I would say no. This neighborhood is already really bad. It’s not good for business. People love my food, but they prefer not to come to the Tenderloin.”

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“They don’t feel safe walking around here. The city needs to make it safer and cleaner. Another restaurant owner, Tommy Huynh, said that he hopes they open the center somewhere else.

“Business is already very bad right now because of the street conditions. I hope they would put it somewhere else,” he said. Just like Charoensuk, Huynh complained that the neighborhood was quite dangerous due to its open drug use and homelessness. 

Therefore, families do not want to go there, and parents would rather avoid the areas, too. “I saw really good potential in this neighborhood. Not anymore. Parents don’t want to bring the kids around here,” he said. 

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However, Eileen Loughran, the director of the public health department’s office of overdose prevention, believes that the health center will do more good than harm. She also told the Chronicle that the city officials didn’t choose the location themselves. 

“I know from working very closely with the Community Health Center that they are a good neighbor. Not only will they bring resources into the community, they’ll also be spending money in the community, and I think that’s important to note,” she said. 

Therefore, if the health center is able to reduce the amount of drug use, violence will also decrease in the community. It will also help make the environment safer, and the restaurants might begin to flourish again. 

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