A tent city at an intersection in Boston, Massachusetts, will finally be cleaned up and cleared by authorities on November 1 after years of criminal activity, including illegal drug use and violence.
Boston’s Democratic Mayor Michelle Wu issued an ordinance to remove tents and ban camping at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Blvd. She noted that camp residents have been informed that they must leave the area often referred to as the “methadone mile.” People who tried to enter the camp were prevented from setting up new tents.
Those living on the streets have been encouraged to take advantage of the city’s shelter system. Wu noted that many of those living at the intersection struggle with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health issues. City employees have been in the area 24 hours a day for months to provide assistance, she added.
In August, Wu said even outreach workers “no longer feel comfortable” or safe at the intersection as crime increases. According to the mayor, the intersection has become a hotspot for drug trafficking, human trafficking and violence.
“There is no magic wand for a very complex, long-standing challenge facing cities across the country with the opioid crisis, homelessness and mental health, but we know that in Boston we not only have a very good sense of who “It requires services, but also how to most effectively connect people to those services,” Wu explained.
The Boston Herald reported that since Wu took office in 2021, the daily homeless count in Mass and Cass has dropped from nearly 200 to about 80 to 90.
Wu wants to permanently clear the dangerous area by first allowing the police to remove the tents and tarpaulins. Homeless people in need of shelter are connected to housing services. Police Commissioner Michael Cox said the department would maintain a “heavy” police presence at the intersection.
“We want to make it clear to people who come to the city with any other intention, whether it’s to sell drugs or crime or to harass people in these areas, we will not allow that,” Cox explains.
City Council President Ed Flynn is seeking a “zero tolerance” approach to the camping ban.
“We have rules and people have to follow the rules,” Flynn told the Boston Herald. “If they violate criminal laws, they must be arrested and prosecuted.”
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