BOSTON (WHDH) - A new plan for Boston’s Mass. and Cass area is expected to be announced Friday when Mayor Michelle Wu is scheduled to speak about the ongoing substance use disorder, mental health and homelessness crisis near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. 

Wu is slated to hold a press conference in Roxbury Friday morning, at which point she could announce new steps such as a ban on encampments and an increased police presence. 

“This year, we have fewer people that are truly unhoused and looking for services and more people that are coming to the area to participate in the drug market or to partake in criminal activity,” said Mass and Cass Response Team Director Tania Del Rio this week.

Officials have been holding public meetings leading up to Friday’s announcement. Among feedback, Del Rio said officials have heard from police “that they need visibility as far as all of the activity that’s criminal in the area going on.”

“The tents, tarp structures — mega-tarps in many cases — are blocking the view,” Del Rio said. 

Del Rio spoke to South Boston residents on Thursday, saying there have been big improvements over the past year, including moving 149 people from tents to transitional and now permanent housing. 

Challenges remain, though, with public safety being a big issue. 

A Boston police official at Thursday’s meeting with South Boston residents said drug arrests are being made “on a daily basis.” 

“We try to concentrate on the drug dealers and we try to concentrate on the violent crime,” the official, Joe Boyle, said. 

With more violent incidents, some support agencies have pulled out of Mass and Cass. 

Now, a focus moving forward could shift to removing encampments and making sure outreach teams and resources are ready in case people move to other areas of the city. 

As the city also looks into reopening the closed recovery campus on Long Island in Boston Harbor to help address the needs of people, many say the work is just beginning.

“What we need to do is the tents really need to come down,” said Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn. “There needs to be a plan to take down the tents, to get those people into recovery, to get them into medical care, mental health care and hopefully on a path to recovery. I think that’s the critical part.”

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