Some of the measures announced at the conference These include the closure of Atkinson Street, a daily gathering place for drug use and trafficking, and the introduction of an ordinance to make it easier for police to remove tents from sidewalks and streets. Encampments are sprouting up in Massachusetts and around Cass, with dilapidated shelters offering relief from the elements for homeless people while offering hidden spaces from law enforcement for opioids and the sex trade. providing.
It was unclear what the closure of the street had to do with it. A spokeswoman for Mayor Michelle Wu declined to answer questions on Thursday. Wu will host a press conference on Friday highlighting the city’s new approach to Massachusetts and the city of Cass.
Dr. Bisora Oziktu, executive director of the Boston Board of Public Health, said during a virtual meeting that safe sleeping spaces on Massachusetts Street are a temporary solution until authorities “bring some order” to Atkinson Street. said there is. I recently experienced violence.
“This is by no means a long-term plan,” she told a neighborhood group.
Authorities say they want to provide those camped on Atkinson Street with a safe place to sleep at night if homeless people have their tents taken away. The most realistic option for sleeping space for about 30 people in that category is on Massachusetts Avenue, near the Boston Medical Center building, which straddles Albany Street and Harrison Avenue, according to Osiktu. indoor space. It’s on the other side of the intersection of Massachusetts and Cass from Atkinson and further down the South End.
Clinical services are provided in spaces available for men, women, couples, and multipersons. People who cannot tolerate and function in group environments such as the homeless men’s shelter at 112 Southampton Street, with its main entrance on Atkinson Street.
“Most of them are chronically homeless and homeless,” Ojiktu said.
At the Southend Zoom conference, the reaction was swift, harsh, and overwhelmingly negative. Residents are frustrated, perceiving new strains on neighborhoods that are already centers of social services, including homeless shelters for the homeless and those struggling with addiction. was
Several people raised their voices and wondered. Why couldn’t the city find another place to take her 30?
“This is ridiculous,” said Rep. John Moran. “No more. We are not going to put a fourth shelter in the South End.”
“This is going to be a disaster for the South End area,” added David Stone.
“I’m tired of Band-Aids,” said another resident, George Sturgeos. “This is also a band-aid.”
A letter from the Southend Forum sent to city councilors opposing Mr. Wu’s plan bluntly states that “turning Math & Cass into ‘Math & Albany’ is not the answer.”
“With Atkinson Street closed, more than 200 people will be looking for their next destination, and the reality is that the city has no plans or answers,” the Southend Forum letter said. . “Inevitably, the drug scene will reshape, but is now centered around Massachusetts Avenue and Albany, drawn by proximity and relocated services.”
Ojiktu said drug use would not be tolerated within the planned space, that the place would be manned 24/7, that the space would be equipped with metal detectors, and that those staying there would be subject to the authorities. Said I need to register. It is also forbidden to gather people outside the entrance.
“Security is the biggest concern,” she said.
Still, some unanswered questions loom, such as the timeline for the closure of Atkinson Street. City officials who attended a meeting this week said: The police were adamant that they would not clear the area as they had done in the past. For example, police crackdowns in the region in 2019 came under criticism from liberty groups.
The city’s new plans were announced amid concerns about a surge in violence in Massachusetts and Cass. Wu said earlier this month that the region had reached a “new security alert level” after a summer spike in violence.
And this week, Ojiktu acknowledged the problems posed by the violence, saying that the Atkinson Street Engagement Center does not currently offer clinical services. The center has been closed in the past due to brutal street violence. The center will open in late 2021 to provide a daytime drop-in space for people struggling with addiction and homelessness, providing access to food, housing, clothing, treatment resources and medical care.
After repeated attempts to reset how social services are delivered on the streets, the city needs to try something different to change the reality of Atkinson, Ojiktu said.
“That street is incredibly dangerous,” Ojiktu said.
Massachusetts and the Cass area saw about seven assaults a week in July and August, more than double the normal, city officials said at a Southend conference. The recent stabbing of three people has prompted street activists to temporarily withdraw from the scene, prompting many government agencies to put more emphasis on safety. Public safety calls in the region increased by 10% year-on-year.
According to Wu administration data, most of the people who flock to Atkinson Street on any given day don’t actually live in the encampments that dot the area. Officials say the decline in unprotected homelessness has not translated into the crowds that characterize daily life in Massachusetts and Cass.
The complexities of Massachusetts and Cass continue to haunt policymakers and make headlines.Wednesday, city Officials and health care providers toured a closed and abandoned addiction recovery campus on Long Island, praising the site’s potential to help solve the city’s opioid and homeless crisis. But the opening of such campuses, which residents hope will alleviate problems in Massachusetts and Cass, is still years away.
Last week, the Southend Forum, along with local businesses, announced plans to build a multi-million dollar, multi-stage reconstruction campus in Whiddett Circle, a remote industrial area about 800 meters from Massachusetts and Cass. Proposed.
Earlier this summer, the state announced plans to build more than 400 assistive homes at Shattuck Hospital in Boston’s Franklin Park to combat the region’s homelessness problem and the opioid epidemic.The plan was also met with opposition. Critics say they don’t want the park, Boston’s largest square, to become “another Mass and Cass.”
Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org up with him @Danny__McDonald.