While Mayor Breed’s ballyhooed Tenderloin drug crackdown is pretty much failing to get anyone into treatment, a Code Tenderloin night program is getting drug addiction treatment to hundreds every month.

We are now about a year into the Tenderloin drug crackdown engineered by Mayor London Breed and Governor Gavin Newsom. It’s produced a pretty fair number of arrests, though it’s highly debatable whether this has changed street conditions in any noticeable way. And one big component was that people would be offered treatment instead of incarceration. But as of six months into the program this past December, out of more than 800 drug arrests, only 1.5% of them accepted treatment (12 people).


A vastly less expensive program from the neighborhood nonprofit Code Tenderloin is getting better results, with far fewer resources. KGO reports on Code Tenderloin’s Night Navigation Team, a team of people in recovery who go out in the Tenderloin between 7 pm and 3 am on a nightly basis, offering people paths to treatement as well as prescribed drugs to help get them off opioids.

"It is a pilot program, so we're still fine tuning things, but we've had great success,” one night navigator Douglas Liu told KGO. “In one month we had 300 prescriptions we were able to prescribe, nine people in rehab."

It’s not clear whether those 300 prescriptions went to 300 different people. But what is clear is that the law enforcement crackdown got 12 people into recovery in six months, whereas Code Tenderloin is able to get nine people per month into recovery. So yes, from a recovery standpoint, Code Tenderloin is a vastly more effective effort.

Night Navigation is a semi-official city program. According to a January announcement, “The Night Navigator Program run by Code Tenderloin in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health,” according to the Mayor’ Office. “Since its launch in October 2023, the program had over 900 street engagements, facilitating 265 connections to health and other social services such as shelter.”    

The night navigators can offer immediate buprenorphine or methadone, and can conduct telehealth sessions with doctors on the spot who can prescribe it immediately. Those who take the treatment are then given shelter for the evening, in hopes they can continue their recovery.

Related: SFPD Boasts 42 Arrests Made in Wednesday’s One-Day Tenderloin Sweep [SFNews]

Image: @SF_DPH via Twitter