Mayor Wu today announced the city's "warm weather" plan to deal with Mass and Cass: Basically, more services decentralized across the city, with transportation to get people from the troubled intersection to new "day centers" in other neighborhoods.
At a City Hall press conference, Wu said an earlier program to remove tents at the heart of Methadone Mile has gotten some 200 people into safe "low threshold" housing.
She said the city will continue to remove tents - from both Mass and Cass and elsewhere in the city - but that this would be coupled with outreach efforts to get people into care and safer spaces. This will include 24/7 outreach work in areas where encampments might otherwise spring up. At the same time, the city is stepping up street cleaning in the Mass/Cass area and taking other steps, even down to new crosswalk striping, to improve Mass and Cass - along with increased police patrols.
Wu said the city will use vans to transport people to centers in other parts of the city where they can get help away from the Mass and Cass environment.
Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Bisola Ojikutu said this would both help decrease the number of people at Mass and Cass and better reach people near where they live. She added that an existing "engagement center" at Mass and Cass will be expanded from its current medical services to outreach programs to help get people into programs. However, she added it will not become a place for people to congregate.
The centers will be staffed by a variety of clinical and social workers specializing in harm reduction, case management, legal issues related to probation and re-entry to society and some medical issues. She said the city recently issued an RFP to providers, so she does not yet know where these new centers would be. She said she expects to have proposed sites in about a month.
She said that Shattuck Hospital, where the state installed a number of temporary housing units, will continue to be important to efforts to help get people out of addiction, both through the addition of acute-care services and through the creation of "low threshold" housing.
She added that the city is continuing to maintain and repair buildings on Long Island so that it can eventually be re-opened as a treatment services campus once the city can figure out how to get people to and from the site. The city wants to rebuild the former bridge to the island; a plan that the city of Quincy, through which the roads to the bridge run, has fought tooth and nail.
BPD Deputy Superintendent Peter Messina said that along with added services, police have stepped up patrols in Mass and Cass to try to crack down on drug dealers and human traffickers. He said that between May 17 and yesterday afternoon, BPD made 16 arrests and issued 24 court summonses for drug sales and sex for fee. But he acknowledge it's challenging: He said one arrest was of a man found with 131 grams of fentanyl, five bags of amphetamines, two bags of crack and a realistic-looking pellet gun, whom he said told officers he was homeless and a drug addict himself and had tried recovery once, but didn't like it.
Warm Weather plan details.