A 19 year-old former foster child is caught in the grip of a fentanyl addiction after being moved to a San Francisco halfway-house beside an open-air drug camp.
The baby-faced teenager, who gave his name as Noah Santana-Cobain, found a ready and available supply of the powerful synthetic opioid after being assigned to the city’s Larkin Center, on the edge of its notorious Tenderloin District.
The Larkin Center is supposed to offer housing and support for young adults aged between 18 and 24 who are too old to remain in foster homes.
But addicts smoke fentanyl and other drugs just feet away from its door unimpeded, providing Noah with immediate access to the ultra-powerful painkiller he says he is desperate to quit.
Local citizen journalist JJ Smith highlighted Noah’s plight in a series of heartbreaking videos he shared with DailyMail.com.
San Francisco Fire Department’s verified Twitter account has since thanked Smith for drawing their attention to Noah, who paramedics hope to help.
The first picture of Noah that spread on social media showing him crumbled in a ball outside of a storefront with scabs on his legs
Noah is originally from Iowa Township in South Dakota, but moved to San Francisco to be with his grandmother
The open-air fentanyl market outside of Noah’s home, the Larkin Center, in San Francisco
Noah is originally from Iowa Township in South Dakota, but moved to San Francisco to be with his grandmother.
He says he ended up in the care of social services after she suffered a fentanyl overdose.
Asked about his drug habit by local citizen journalist JJ Smith, the soft-spoken teenager said: ‘I usually smoke fentanyl or weed.’
‘My grandma overdosed once, I have never.’
‘I’ve been to treatment a long time ago. I went to this treatment called Our Home For youth. It’s a very hard place to be at I guess.’
The liberal California city recently closed its infamous open-air drug market, the Tenderloin Linkage Center.
It opened just 10 months ago, cost $22 million of taxpayer cash, and was accused of exacerbating the very issue it had been set up to treat by turning the piazza next to San Francisco City Hall into a huge narcotic free-for-all.
Despite its closure, open use is still a common sight on the city’s streets, with vulnerable youngsters like Noah representing easy pickings for dealers and criminals who wish to exploit their addiction.
In the first of the clips Noah, wears a gray hoodie that makes him look even younger than his 19 years.
A third video, shared earlier this week, shows Noah hobbling across the street to chat to JJ after being struck by a car. The circumstances of that accident are unknown
Speaking in a soft voice, Noah says: explains how his drug of choice is fentanyl. Smith said on Twitter after posting his first interview with Noah that the teen was dealing with the effects of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
Heartbreakingly, Noah tells Smith he would be open to help to try and get him weaned off fentanyl-but only if he can be sure that the people ‘won’t hurt him.’
Smith showed a video of Noah’s current home, the Larkin Center, which comes equipped with a fentanyl market just steps from the front door.
Another image shows Noah passed out on the street, with red scabs on his legs visible.
A third video, shared earlier this week, shows Noah hobbling across the street to chat to JJ after being struck by a car. The circumstances of that accident are unknown.
Noah, wearing a torn t-shirt, begins him saying: ‘I’ve been doing real rough.’ When Noah is asked if he went to the hospital about his injury, he replies: ‘No, I’m afraid of the hospital.’
He goes on to say that he has been doing ‘lousy’ in tackling his drug problem and describes spending $10 to $15 per day on his habit.
Noah says that he doesn’t think he could possibly overdose. When asked if he wanted to stop using drugs, Noah is dismissive and says: ‘I’m just tired of my leg hurting’
Noah says that he doesn’t think he could possibly overdose. When asked if he wanted to stop using drugs, Noah is dismissive and says: ‘I’m just tired of my leg hurting.’
The teen proceeds to show Smith his the swelling on his leg from the accident.
Then, Smith tells Noah: ‘I’ve found some people that’s really ready to help you out.’
Sounding optimistic, Noah asks: ‘Really?’ He then says that he would be willing to look into getting help.
In the latest video, posted Friday, Noah appears in a haze, said that he was attempting to find some way of making money but was unable to.
He says while appearing to lose consciousness: ‘I’m just kinda bored.’
One of Smith’s videos got the attention of the San Francisco Police Department who retweeted the video showing Noah with a leg injury. The department had a paramedic aid his wounded leg.
Smith told DailyMail.com: ‘He was hooked on Fentanyl before the camp was outside his door, but here in San Francisco the area he lives in the drug is very accessible so he can walk to the corner from his house to the middle of the black and buy it from anyone.’ He says the permissive attitude of San Francisco is partly to blame for Noah’s woes.
A homeless man injects fentanyl into his friend’s armpit, due to a lack of usable veins, as people walk by near San Francisco’s City Hall, in early September
Major crimes in San Francisco are up 7.4 percent so far this year from the same period in 2021
The RISE drug sobering center opened in June in the city with the help of Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who characterized it as a safe haven for addicts looking to get back on their feet.
Mayor Breed’s office characterized SoMa as a ‘safe indoor space’ for addicts to ‘get off the streets’ and regather themselves and ‘stabilize.’
But SoMa resident and business owner Mark Sackett said things were not playing out nearly as the city intended.
‘They’re letting their clients come out here and get high, go inside and get sober and then get high again,’ Sackett told ABC7.
Another resident, only identified as Ghis, gave a similar account to ABC7.
‘More troublemakers settling in, feeling comfortable doing their drugs, pissing and s****ting in the street blocking the sidewalks,’ Ghis said, adding the neighborhood was going through ‘a period of insanity.
Another local named Bill said the trouble started when the center opened, and that ever since he has wondered whether he was in danger every time he left home to go to work.
‘Every morning it’s a roulette. When you show up at your office, are there going to be 10 people passed out in front of your building?’ he said. ‘Are they going to be violent? This was never a problem before HealthRight 360 moved in.’
‘If you ask me, it should be closed down and there should be other approaches to the homeless and drug problem we’re all facing,’ Bill added.
San Franciscans in the SoMa neighborhood have taken to carrying around defensive weapons after a drug ‘sobering’ clinic moved into the neighborhood. Pictured: Homeless people are seen in San Francisco in July
Amid scenes of misery on city streets, where drug use is brazen and homelessness is rampant, a recent poll found that a majority of San Franciscans believe their city is going down hill, and a third plan to leave the city within three years.
Some residents blame Breed, whose earlier popularity for steering the city through the pandemic appears to have waned amid rising crime, the fentanyl epidemic and other woes.
Frustration with San Francisco’s decline has intensified in recent months, with the ejection of progressive DA Chesa Boudin in a recall election following community outrage over his perceived soft policies.
In recent months, Asian Americans have staged protests and disrupted traffic, angered by cops failing to protect them and prosecute hate crimes, particularly against elderly members of the city’s sizeable community.
In October, Breed pledged for the second time in a year Wednesday to crack down on open-air opioid drug sales and rampant public drug use that she says is destroying the city.
At a press conference, Breed said: ”Let’s be clear: Selling drugs is not legal. Using drugs out in the open is completely unacceptable,’ Breed said. ‘There needs to be consequences, for the seniors, for the immigrants, for the kids who are trying to just live their lives.’
DA Brooke Jenkins, who replaced Boudin, revoked 30 plea offers to fentanyl dealers that she considered too lenient.
She has announced a new policy informing fentanyl sellers they could face murder charges if their goods are linked to an overdose death.
She said that people who receive five citations by police for consuming drugs in public will be referred to an alternative community court for treatment.
‘We are a city of compassion. But compassion is not leaving people to languish on the street, potentially to die of overdose. It’s using the tools that we have to propel people to change their lives,’ Jenkins said.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said officers began ramping up arrests for drug dealing in June, and since then have issued more than 350 citations to people using drugs in public.
In the last three months, his office said, officers have made over 260 felony arrests for narcotics sales.
Dorsey, a police spokesperson who was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in May to replace a newly elected state legislator, said he would work with fellow supervisors to craft solutions. Dorsey represents much of the downtown area that suffers from illegal drug dealing.