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Foster care youth set on their own to survive at 18
to find housing at new Tenderloin community center

Site of the the new Salvation Army Tenderloin Housing Community Center
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

June 22, 2006

Community leaders broke ground for a projected world class Tenderloin community center yesterday.

Set to open in July, 2008, the center draws funding through a $53 million gift from the Joan B. Kroc estate, wife of the McDonald's fast food chain founder Ray Kroc.

"Gavin Newsom said it was a big check. I thought it was a lot of hamburgers," Tenderloin District Supervisor Chris Daly drew laughter.

District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly joins community leaders for the midday groundbreaking.

Daly and Mayor Newsom were among admirers of center services planned for the first such Salvation Army facility built nationwide.

Artist rendering of Salvation Army Community Center
located at 240 Turk Street between Jones and Leavenworth Streets.
Artist rendition courtesy The Salvation Army

Newsom singled out center housing slated for emancipated foster care youth freed to their own devices at age 18.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom worked with project sponsors
for five years to launch the center, he recalled.

"If I came up with just the ideal project in terms of prioritizing need... you know what say?" reflected Newsom.

"I got 700 emancipated foster kids coming out of the system in the next five years - this is an historic record number - we're going to need beds for emancipated foster youth."

Eighty youth will leave the foster care system this year. The center sets aside 27 rooms for emancipated youth.

"That is a big percentage of the overall need," the mayor noted.

Remainder of the 110 rooms will house tenants coping with substance abuse recovery.

In addition to a public swimming pool, youth services for the 3,500 children living within an eight-block radius of the center will include:

-- A gymnasium and weight room, dance studio, graphic arts studios, a climbing wall, outdoor courtyard and activity rooms for mentoring and education,

-- Nutritional and social programs for senior citizens, and

-- A worship room.

The former Salvation Army facility on the site, built shortly after the 1906 earthquake, was razed due to prohibitive building code and seismic retrofit costs. Current Salvation Army services will be operated at 1 Grove Street.

The Tenderloin center is the first such facility nationwide to be built through a 2004 endowment of $1.5 billion from the Kroc estate earmarked for similar centers in several cities. An additional $53 million Kroc gift funds construction of the Tenderloin site.

"This is a good as it gets," said Newsom.

District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly who represents the Tenderloin echoed praise for emancipated foster youth housing.

"I'm very, very excited about this project for all the reasons our mayor listed," Daly stated.

"The housing for aging out foster youth, an incredibly difficult struggle that 18-year-olds face when they have no family or resources for support.

"Then of course on the struggle for recovery, what the Salvation Army is best known for, without... supportive housing models the struggle to recovery... never really leads to the actual sobriety and recovery."

Daly noted other improvements occurring in the Tenderloin.

"This is really going to be a spectacular project and it really is a spectacular addition to a lot of other great things that have happened in this neighborhood."

Major Joe Posillico, divisional commander of the San Francisco Salvation Army,
receives City Certificate of Appreciation from Supervisor Chris Daly.

Neighborhood social services providers collaborated on center development, reported Tamiquia Moss, social service supervisor for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC).

"I had been involved with the Salvation Army's ad hoc advisory committee... to talk about the programs going into this amazing project," Moss told the gathering.

"I was very excited because we're always looking for ways to bridge gaps of services in the Tenderloin and I feel this is a very exciting way to do that.

"We really rely on partnerships with the Salvation Army and other organizations in the Tenderloin to provide the best wrap-around services for our residents."




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