BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston Mayor Michelle Wu provided an update about the city’s response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis centered around Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard one day after crews cleared the area’s homeless encampment.
Wu announced Thursday that 154 people formerly living in tents in the area have been successfully referred to temporary housing at the Roundhouse Hotel, Willow, Dorm One in a newly created low-threshold and supportive housing, Envision Hotel, the Cottages at the Shattuck, and the portion of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital campus run by the Pine Street Inn.
She added that others have been placed at various emergency shelter locations.
“As spots open up in all of the sites that have been created that I’ve listed, as those spots open up because residents are being connected to permanent housing once they’re able to work with case managers, access treatment, get stabilized, connect with job search, once they move onto permanent housing, much of this is outside the city of Boston in partnership with our regional partners, then new people will be able to access that low-threshold supportive housing so we will continue to have spaces open up for those in need,” Wu said.
Crews worked into Wednesday night using bulldozers to lift piles of items that littered the area into dump trucks.
Wu had set a Wednesday deadline for getting people living in the area into housing and other needed services.
“It’s not safe for anyone to be out on the street in a tent, no heat, or running water in the winter in Boston,” she told 7NEWS in a 1-on-1 interview.
Wu says the city has created 150 housing units around Boston for those who had been living on the streets.
“The goal is really to get at the root causes of the housing and services that are needed, so that we can transform this dynamic and help people on their journey to recovery,” she added.
Norris Cowart has lived on the streets of Boston for several years.
“At night, it’s the worst time,” he said. “It’s been difficult for the longest. Nobody really cared about all people that were homeless,” he said.
Boston City Councilor Frank Baker questioned what the future will hold for the people who occupied the area of Mass. Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.
“Now we all of a sudden have housing for people that were in this condition here that arguably, can they support themselves in housing?” he asked.
For companies operating in the area, many of them in the food industry, say this cleanup is a relief.
“They’ve just really had to put up with a lot of issues in the last several months,” one woman said. “It’s time they got back to the business of feeding the city.”
For Cowart, it’s time for a new beginning.
“To have a place to call your own, somewhere where you can live in and govern yourself and get your life back on track,” he said.
About two dozen people congregated in nearby Southampton Street early Thursday, with some seen camped out there.
Wu said that there will be nightly sweeps of the area to prevent the tent cities from coming back and to get people help when they show up.
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