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83 people from Mass.  and Cass placed in housing


“We can’t wait another day, another week to make sure we connect people to housing. “

A woman folds a sleeping bag outside her tent in Newmarket Square after Friday’s snowstorm. Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe

Mayor Michelle Wu said Monday that 83 people living in the Mass. and Cass in Boston were placed in low-threshold housing ahead of the city’s deadline on Wednesday to begin cleaning out tents in the area, which has become the epicenter of opioid, housing and health crises. mental area.

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At a city hall press conference, Wu reiterated that his administration was approaching the ongoing humanitarian emergency focused on public health and housing.

Between the winter storm seen last week and the expected drop in temperatures on Tuesday, she said the city had “passed the emergency point” to look after the health and safety of people living in homelessness in the area. .

“It’s impossible to live safe and healthy in a tent in winter in Boston,” Wu said. “So we can’t wait just one more day, one more week to make sure we connect people. to housing. “

The mayor said the city has implemented a new, individualized approach to the crisis with outreach workers “meeting everyone where they are” and identifying their specific health or housing needs, logging in every day with the residents of the camps.

“We continue to make progress towards this goal, and this morning 83 people have already been placed in established housing across the city,” Wu said. “And there is space available for the remaining 62 residents of the settlements. who were interviewed. “

The Boston Public Health Commission interviewed people living in the settlements in December, identifying 145 residents, Wu said.

The mayor said almost everyone captured by the study told city officials they wanted to move into low-threshold housing with full medical services, but the existing options did not meet their needs.

Following the completion of the survey, the city announced plans to expand low-threshold housing at several sites across the city, including the Shattuck Campus, the Roundhouse Hotel and the EnVision Hotel, and set 12 January the deadline for connecting people. to housing. The city has also redeveloped the space of its homeless shelters at 112 Southampton St. and Woods-Mullin.

According to the city, the Wu administration has identified low-threshold spaces for 200 people, with 159 of those beds operational and available on Monday.

On Wednesday, the city’s encampment protocols will take effect. The measures, updated under former mayor Kim Janey, say those without accommodation should be given at least 48 hours in advance that their tent should be removed and offered free storage of their belongings.

“Individuals who refuse to move tents on public property may be viewed as disorderly and subject to the enforcement of existing laws,” the protocols say. “They remain free to leave (that is, without being arrested), with or without removing their tent. “

Since announcing the deadline, Wu said that city outreach teams were working daily to connect residents of the settlements to lodgings, and residents were told in December that tents would not be allowed after January 12. .

City officials said efforts to get people into available beds will intensify on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“On Wednesday, the city will continue its efforts to connect individuals with housing, dismantle tents left behind and no longer needed, and start cleaning the street,” Wu said. “City services will continue to work. maintain their presence in the neighborhood beyond Wednesday and beyond this week as well… The efforts to remove the encampments, some of which are very large fortified structures, will take more than a day, but these efforts will begin in earnest on Wednesday. . “

The mayor acknowledged that more of the 62 people interviewed lived in Mass. and Cass, noting that “people are constantly coming and going.”

“In addressing this crisis and the situation that awaits us, our approach is to really understand who really lives in the encampments and lives in this area, for some people for several years, who we will really connect with and surround yourself with. housing and services, ”she said. “And then continue the outreach with anyone else who might be in the area or in need of housing and shelter, as has been the fashion of the city, even long before this approach to make sure we always connect everyone with resources. “

When asked if she expected arrests on Wednesday of people not leaving the settlements, Wu again stressed that the city’s approach was led by housing and public health.

“We’ve been working with the people living in the settlements for days, weeks, months, hour by hour at this point… We’re going to focus on connecting people to the housing and services they need and won’t be. – we are seeking to avoid criminalizing any part of this process, ”she said. “There have been activities that are not safe, that are not in the best interest or for health, or legal, in relation to drug trafficking, in relation to the violence that we have seen in this. domain as well. So in terms of housing for individuals, we will remain focused on housing and public health. But Boston Police will continue to provide support in ensuring this is a safe environment for everyone. “


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