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More than half of Mass/Cass tenters moved into new housing; rest to be moved by Wednesday, Wu says

Mayor Wu said today that 83 people who had been living in tents along Methadone Mile have been placed in new, "low-threshold" housing - with heat, hot water and ready access to counseling and health services.

At a City Hall press conference this morning, she said the remaining 62 or so people will be moved by Wednesday, when the city plans to remove any tents or other structure, a task that could take more than a day because some are "very large fortified structures."

Wu said answering the "humanitarian crisis" in the area centered around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard has required daily work by both city departments and outside agencies, such as the Pine Street Inn, to find housing that gives the people who lived in tents, sometimes for years, a respite from the increasingly harsh winters and help to begin to get them out of the conditions that led them there in the first place.

She added that work will continue at Mass and Cass because the people helped into new housing are only those who have lived there for a long time, that the city will continue to try to help the people who flit in and out of the area but who don't live in tents there. However, she said that after Wednesday, tents will simply not be allowed back.

"They are not a safe or healthy place for anyone to be living," she said, pointing to the lack of heat and water and a recent spate of fires as tent dwellers turn to propane tanks to try to stay warm.

Wu and Dr. Monica Bharel, who is coordinating the city's overall effort, emphasized they are dealing with the problem from a public-health and housing angle, to try to get what Bharel called "a fragile population" on the road to recovery, rather than simply having police round them up. Still, Wu emphasized that police will continue to go after people dealing drugs and committing crimes in the area.

Sheila Dillon, the city's chief of housing, said the city has identified a total of 200 units that will be used for Mass and Cass housing, including at the Roundhouse Hotel right at the intersection. She added that the opening of modular, temporary one- and tow-person units at Shattuck Hospital has been delayed until next week because of delays in getting electrical service to the area where the shelters have been put up.


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With the temps heading into the single digits before sunrise, I really hope they get everyone settled today.

Voting closed 35

Michelle Wu is proving you can walk and chew gum at the same time. So many people seemed to float one idea that would solve all problems. What I see here is someone looking at a problem and is just wrapping around it completely.

Voting closed 82

I'm glad to see this; count me as a former skeptic. What did she do that got this going rather than before - or was it that the weather necessitated action that wouldn't be feasible otherwise?

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The globe had an article about the roundhouse being used as housing. The doctor at BMC who runs the program says there will be no tolerance for drug use. I'll assume that means they will get the boot

So what happens then?

They just return to the streets. Continuing to use in a treatment center.. any treatment.. is grounds for removal.So its likely this will happen.

So they go back to the streets & back to Sacklerville. And once again living in tents.

So what do we do then? Push someone who doesn't want treatment back into treatment or do we just leave them alone?

We need to get out of the paradigm that "drug users must want help if they are on the streets". This will be the biggest fallacy of this attempt to clean up this area.The article states that 168 beds are available for 68 people. So why aren't they going?

because you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.

We need to drill this into our heads so we get it. Its clear we don't because I see no plan for those who do not want drug treatment.

So what do we do? Give them free housing anyways? Not sure that is a good idea either. A handout doesn't help in the long run, getting them to help themselves does.I'm all for people wanting to help themselves. but I have razar's thin compassion for people who do not. Many do not.

Voting closed 50

as it pertains to the people who – as you say – don’t want to help themselves, what does a proactive plan look like?

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of *any* sort, then I'm OK with the city saying "well, you still can't pitch your tent here, find another spot". If they're actually want to be an addict and live on the streets, then they can take on both the upsides and the downsides of that without any of the accommodations that are made for people who really want to leave that scene. Maybe they'll change their minds. Maybe not.

There's a different sort, though, who don't want *specific kinds* of help, and I'm obviously more sympathetic to that. Shelters do impose some unreasonable hardship of various sorts, and some assistance programs are overly paternalistic. I understand why some people want to leave the street but don't make use of those programs as they're currently run.

I suspect this second group is larger, and is the one I'd want to work to help...

[edited to clarify]

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Even if you don’t personally like how they choose to live their lives.

Voting closed 44

and everyone deserves passable sidewalks and parks not covered in needles.

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and everyone deserves passable sidewalks and parks not covered in needles.

Sounds like housing people would solve a whole host of problems!!

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How do you house people that refuse housing?


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They don't necessarily deserve it in that particular location.

And remember: There, I'm *specifically* talking about the few people who really do want to live on the street.

Voting closed 12

So we have gotten to a place where not freezing to death is a handout?


You do realize that the new ways of looking at housing the homeless are moving away from the "handout" mentality and the "have to earn stability" mentality because those concepts 1) don't work and 2) exacerbate the problems of homelessness?

Housing stability doesn't solve all problems for all people, but it solves many or even most of the problems for most people - and provides a stable platform for solving their other problems.

Voting closed 33

When you have a place to live, you can focus on treatment options. It is hard to do that if you are on the street. How are you supposed to take a shower if you live on the street? And if you get a job, it is hard to get ready for it, on the street.

Voting closed 30