Acting Mayor Kim Janey today announced an executive order that aims to move people now creating tent cities at Mass and Cass and elsewhere in Boston into treatment and housing.
"To be clear, tents are not appropriate for housing," because they lack basic services and lead to infectious diseases, violence and human trafficking, Janey said at City Hall.
Tents and temporary shelters "are no longer to be permitted in the city of Boston," she said, adding the Boston Public Health Commission has declared an official "crisis" in the city because of the issue. She said street workers and first responders are already using Narcan to revive four to five people a day in the street.
"The work has already begun," she said, emphasizing that public health and care for the rights of the individuals involved will lead the work.
Janey said that, effective immediately, city social workers will try to get people out of tents and into programs. People who refuse to go will be moved only as a last resort, she said, adding that the city will work with the Suffolk County District Attorney's office and the court system to ensure that any such commitments are coupled with programs to get the people involved into treatment.
"Our capacity in our shelters is not at max," so there is room to get more people inside even as the city works to increase access to treatment, city Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez said. He echoed Janey that tents are just not a place for people to stay to try to get help out of addiction and other issues.
Janey emphasized she will also be working with the state, because addiction is a regional issue and many of the people at Mass and Cass are coming into Boston from other areas in the state and New England.