Wu renews call for state to help around Mass and Cass


“We need state help on this front.”

Lane Turner/The Boston Globe, File

Mayor Michelle Wu renews her call for the state to help the city as it works to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis around Mass. and Cass.

Last year, Boston’s mayor called on state leaders to create 1,000 new low-threshold housing units outside of Boston, saying the city has been unable to meet the need increased service despite its ongoing efforts to address the confluence of addiction, mental health, and homelessness crises in the region. Former Gov. Charlie Baker and administration officials responded to Wu’s call for action by explaining how the state has already been involved in the crisis and saying that it is in fact the city that must do more.

During an appearance on Spark FM’s “Saucy & Friends in the Morning” show Monday, Wu once again highlighted the progress being made with the city’s approach of implementing supportive housing. low-threshold support to get people off the streets and encampments and encouraged the state to follow the model in other Massachusetts communities.

“I will continue to renew our appeal – we need the state’s help on this front,” Wu said. “People are coming in from all over the state and even beyond. And the right thing to do, the effective thing to do – we’re seeing how it works – is to have this system that we’ve put in place in Boston, put in place in other parts of the state as well.

Generally, “low threshold” refers to placing minimum requirements on people seeking to access services, removing or reducing barriers such as a sobriety warrant, so that people receive harm reduction care or housing.

A spokesperson for Gov. Maura Healey did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Asked last year about back and forth between Wu and Baker on the issue, Healey said “the state has done an awful lot,” but the new governor has so far offered few details about how she plans to go. to address Mass and Cass, instead saying it’s an “ongoing topic of discussion”.

Wu said Monday that his administration’s goal for the Mass. and Cass continues to be that all streets in the city remain usable for the general public and not simply become a “designated place where people who have nowhere to go can go.”

“It’s much, much better,” she said of the situation. “A year and a few months ago we had encampments all around the Newmarket triangle, just several parts of town where people were living in very dangerous conditions. After the creation of several hundred housing units with support services, more than 400 people have now been connected to housing in one way or another.

The mayor said that over the past year nearly 90 people have moved into transitional housing which has been set up to have permanent accommodation.

Wu said the numbers around Mass and Cass continued to drop, but she acknowledged it didn’t always “feel” or “look like it.”

“It’s a challenge that’s been around for many, many years and we’re still getting our systems in place, but now we have ongoing case management, we have weekend coverage, we’re working with all the possible people who want to connect with housing,” she said.

Wu pointed out that one of the factors that led to the development of encampments in recent years, right in front of a shelter with empty beds, was that people did not feel that the shelter system was working. for them, for reasons ranging from a lack of substance use services to an inability to store belongings to simply not feeling safe.

That’s why she said the city is also working to transform its shelter systems to be “more like a kind of individualized, safe, tailored treatment, rather than a place where you risk everything for be sheltered from the cold for a few hours”.

“That was a major component,” Wu said.


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