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Boston gearing up for first Mass-and-Cass tent cleanup early Monday morning

Mike Manzoni at NBC Boston posts a copy of one of the signs that started going up yesterday in Newmarket Square advising people living in tents there to move along by 7 a.m. on Monday. Acting Mayor Kim Janey signed an executive order last week outlawing tents - and promising people living in them access to treatment and a place to stay, at least temporarily.

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The notices being posted around the area are a good start. Let's just hope we don't have a repeat of the 'Apocalypse Now' moment known as "Operation Clean Sweep" back in 2019.

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Voting closed 14

I think most people thought Operation Clean Sweep was awful because they literally just threw everyone's property (including wheelchairs, bikes, suitcases) into garbage trucks without giving these people anywhere to go.

This time around we know there are available beds in nearby homeless shelters & drug treatment clinics. Sex workers and open-air drug market necessitate shutting down the tent city immediately. Also, the population has EXPLODED from throughout the region--most living in Mass & Cass today aren't from greater Boston anymore.

Bottom line, we can't force people into rehab or homeless shelters but the city is (finally) taking action to shut down this tent city from getting even larger.

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Voting closed 66

"We're finally doing something... we will push them along".

This is the stupidest thing ever.

Do you think all the folks are going into a homeless shelter? Nope. I'd be surprised if only a third of them went willingly. So what happens to the 2/3rd of them that don't want to go to a shelter?

Think it wont happen? Watch. 2/3rds of the people will disperse to other parts of the city. Many already migrate north to Cambridge and Somerville during the day to get away from the area. But they return at night. This is what will happen.

People think "oh there's beds available, we'll be able to clean this up lickity split". If only it were that easy. The beds were already there , so tell me, if the beds were there, why didn't people go. Why do they need to be pushed?

This is the biggest fallacy of this movement by Janey. You assume people want help. You assume people want to go into shelters. Some people don't want help and need to come to their own commitment to clean up. And until that happens, you can't force them to go. In fact, even if you did, they will most likely fail and be back out on the streets. The will to clean up has to come from within, not from outside.

And as far as shelters, many require you to leave your possessions outside, and many require you to be sober to stay there. These two reasons alone is why people don't flock to the shelters. They don't wanna clean up nor leave their possessions behind. So they stay in tent city.

So now what? Arrest them? That'll help... not.

People are upset of Sherriff Tompkins proposal over using some of his jail space that is already configured for a drug treatment program. Its 100% turnkey solution and could be done TOMORROW. All he needs is money to run the thing.

Yet everyone is upset over his comment of about needed the courts to force people to go. While that comment is cringeworthy, he's 100% correct. You cannot.. CANNOT.. force people to enter treatment against their will. You need a court to declare you incompetent to manage your own life, so the state assigns someone to do it for you. (I believe this is called "Title 7" but I could be wrong). Then you will be forced.

So yeah his statement is cringeworthy but based on fact. I wish he had followed up his comment with the law like I did, as it would explain his comment better.

Yet people are upset over this. Yet I hear no turnkey-ready-in-a-week solutions for this problem except hanging signs and telling people to get into treatment or a shelter or get lost. That's really helping people (snark).

Any other solution would take months at a minimum to bring any building up to a standard where people could be housed transitionally. It's October, we don't have a few months right now. We've already waited far too long to take action, and should have taken action years ago.

Do I think having Tompkins program will entice more people to go? No, but I think treatment beds are more important to have available than a shelter. A shelter bed is a stop gap, a treatment bed may have better outcomes. IMHO, we need more treatment beds, not shelter beds to make a difference here.

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Voting closed 53

WBZ Radio just reported...

"Tents will not be removed if the individual occupying them cannot be placed in temporary housing or a treatment program."

So for the folks I state above that say no housing or a treatment program... are going to be left alone? I highly doubt that.

Remember folks while horrendous "operation clean sweep" was, it proved that 'banning' tents and telling 'people to just move along" didn't work a few years ago, as now, the issue is just as bad, and in many cases worse.

"moving people along" has never worked, and it wont work again. They need help.

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Voting closed 12

"moving people along has never worked, and it wont work again. They need help."

Right, but as you said previously, you can't force these people to get help. Combine that with the fact that a majority (something like 65%) now living in Mass & Cass aren't from greater Boston and I think it's beyond admirable that the city is ensuring there are beds available for everyone. Those who don't want them will have to 'move along'. Unfortunately, Mass & Cass has become a magnet for drug dealers & sex workers in the past few months and by some estimates the population has more than doubled since just this spring.

Boston didn't create the initial Mass & Cass crisis (Quincy did), however the city is going above & beyond to do the right thing in trying to help addicts. The city has merely announced they will be enforcing the laws, much to the delight of neighboring businesses & residents who have gone through hell themselves the past few years. Arresting dealers, removing tents on public sidewalks (a mistake they made allowing tents to begin with) and ensuring Mass & Cass is no longer the magnet, open-air drug & sex market in New England is the start.

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Voting closed 30

Boston didn't create the initial Mass & Cass crisis (Quincy did)

Did Quincy prevent Boston from making repairs to the old bridge before it became unrepairable? Honest question, I don't know.

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Voting closed 8

I don't know either. I think it was unexpected when the bridge was rated structurally deficient and traffic was immediately halted.

The issue now is that, from the moment the bridge was destroyed, Quincy started whining first about construction crews, then "undesirables" then started filing lawsuits left & right. I'll never understand why Boston didn't respond by immediately starting a multi-year road rehabilitation effort on Neponset Ave, effectively blocking Quincy residents from easily accessing I-93 & Boston during the morning rush hour. I still think that's the fastest way to resolve the Long Island bridge issue with Quincy.

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Voting closed 22

The whole point of having those places on the island was that it was free. Nothing was repaired ever. I don't know if that is the best place for these programs. Residential substance abuse beds should be spread throughout the state. The suburbs have unloaded their unwanted people on the cities without cost for a long time.

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Voting closed 6

With cost sharing between the state, municipalities (perhaps county level), and realistically, private equity or corporate partnerships to create opportunities for job training.

Either way, this is not a "boston" problem. If it were, we wouldn't call it an epidemic. Most of the people who complain are either in the very middle of it (Newmarket Sq. Vendors whom I empathize with), or are completely detached from it "I hate seeing this on my drive into work". Except, they came from your town to be here homie! It's on you too. I'm from Reading, rich, white, and completely addicted to OCs by the time I graduated HS in 2000. I occasionally run into former classmates within the homeless and addiction treatment system I now work in.

Small world.

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Voting closed 9

Going back to 2007, it was known that the bridge needed repairs, and since that time Quincy politicians have been working their hardest to keep the bridge from being made.

And if one needs current evidence, look at the pushback as Boston attempts to rebuild the bridge.

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Voting closed 12

Your thoughts are exactly it...

People will use services when we have services that people, self-select, to use. Part of why people aren't accessing services more is that the services are unbelievably stretched thin (as are the referral points) and with CoVID restrictions, many places have limited groups or activities that are actively happening.

So treatment might just mean sitting in a room all day watching time pass. I have been in a treatment program like that before; I relapsed and got kicked out of care because of it.

The head is the American Psychiatric Association reported in the mid 1950s when asked about the outcomes of strained state run psychiatric facilities: "Service follows the dollar" - you fund better programs and you get better outcomes, whereas when we try to come up with cheap/easy answers, we get this traversty of humanity:

Police, at 7am on a cool wet Monday morning, telling you it's closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here, taking away what may be the only vestiges of a sense of "home".

There are actual ways to address this, and it doesn't involve coercing people through threat of force.

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Voting closed 14

So many of the programs fail because the money, if there is any, has so many strings attached. I GUESS you can stay at our program if you follow our 234798237 rules that my middle-class emotionally stable ass would never be able to follow.

We would save so much money if we just gave people housing, healthcare, education, whatever they need, and didn't attach surveillance and moralizing to it.

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Voting closed 17

If i work for Apple and I'm going to release a new type of device, I'll market test it first. Will consumers purchase this product? Apple is a known quantity with a known user base who tends to operate primarily within that ecosystem. Still, product development can be stymied by unforeseen/unanticipated variables.

When we build treatment programs, we often do so from the perspective of what "healthy" minds think would be helpful. Certainly, that information can be valuable, but it lacks consumer input in a way that continues to diminish the agency of individuals who are expected to utilize this service.

If someone's choosing life in a tent on Atkinson over a warm bed, maybe there's a reason? Obviously, some of the comments lead me to believe that people think that getting high is the reason people stay out there. While there is some element of truth to this, ultimately I call bullshit. Getting high in a tent on a dirty street is an act of self-preservation. Drugs just buffer people from the tortuous reality they are powerless to escape, despite everyone shouting about how easy it should be.

Just like everyone who smokes a legal joint, or drinks some legal whiskey, or has that extra cup of coffee on a tough day.

It's all the same behavior, most people are privileged to not suffer in the way that others have, so the drugs used look different. Instead of looking at the differences between us, we should try to identify with the humanity of others. The drug use is a coping strategy to soothe the deeper existential suffering that is crippling our society. These folks are the most vulnerable among us, in that, they were the most likely to end up on the street first. As this suffering creeps deeper and deeper into society, so will the number of individuals who fall into the void because they too are increasingly closer to the precipice.

To those who are sick of this stuff, who blame the system, know that I am with you, as an addict in recovery, as an independently licensed social worker, and as a Bostonian. I also know that the solution will not be found with band-aids and rhetoric. Recovery is a perspective related to accepting things as they are, focusing on the changes that you have the ability to make, and being able to recognize the difference. One way of engaging in recovery is through service to others. If you're sick of it, great. Help us help you.

This problem doesn't go away by arresting people
This problem doesn't improve by retrofitting jails to look a little bit nicer
This problem doesn't go away from isolated municipal actions

This is all of our responsibilities, across the villages, towns, and cities that make up our states, regions, and society as a whole.. We all have a part to play in solving this.

-Dan

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Voting closed 5

Or to put it a different way, would you feel the same way if this encampment were on Beacham Street rather than on Atkinson Street? Perhaps a third could head over to the other side of the Mystic, a third could head down to Quincy, and a third could say on the Mile.

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Voting closed 7

Wait are we seriously playing a game if who is not doing their fair share in greater Boston???

Chelsea has a methadone clinic and it has had its issues. The city has responded with adopting an award winning system for working with street level issues from Toronto, the Hub. In fact Boston has just started adopting this system from Chelsea. It's been ten years in the making and we have worked to get people the help they need here. Every week all the major players meet to work on case after case.

Concentration. Ok, we want to talk about Beacham Street and Marginal Street and concentration? We are a designated port area, that means the state doesn't allow us to build non industrial marine use on most of our water front. We house all the jet fuel for your airplanes. Most of your road salt because your cities and towns don't want to host their own small piles. We build more affordable housing than almost any other city. We have stepped up over and over and over again. Oh and about Beacham Street, we house all your incoming food at the Produce center with all the trucks that come with it.

At one point a few years ago Chelsea was pulling building permits , per capita, at a rate triple that of Boston.

While we are at it let's de concentrate those fancy downtown building taxes. I'll trade you the salt pile for any skyscraper in Boston.

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Voting closed 8

Create job training within residential treatment programs (which you will first need to update and expand substantially) and incorporate Vocational Rehabilitation into such training. This is a model developed in the 70s to incorporate mental health services into job training, as at the time, Medicare/Medicaid would not cover mental health services (despite discharging 99% of long term addiction/psychiatric patients).

Have part of this job training involve paid internships (with cost sharing) at companies like Amazon that want to bring lots of jobs, and skate on taxes.

The pieces are all here, they've just been decentralized and then pandemic isolationalized to the point of near uselessness. We need to make decisive and intentional changes.

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Voting closed 3

I agree with an approach like this. Chelsea also has a jobs coalition and monthly round tables to discuss how to implement programs like this including working with regional neighbors and MAPC. There are possible grants involved etc.

It's amazing how much more can be done when things are done collaboratively. I agree with you, we need to bring these resources into each other and make things a team effort.

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Voting closed 4

No, they shouldn't be concentrated in South Bay, Quincy, or Chelsea, but it sure looks like the area by the South Bay House of Correction has become the go to place for drug fueled issues. That needs to end.

By the way, you do know what the actual, legitimate business is in the area of the Methadone Mile is, right? It's kind of like what goes on on Beacham Street. The comparison of the two areas is very apt, hence I used it when a Chelseaite pontificates about the problems in my city.

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Voting closed 3

I am quite familiar with the area. As I said though, we have done a lot of work to avoid these issues.

I think the muni neighbors may have chosen to speak up when your city tried to take over what was the quarantine hotel for Chelsea and Revere to shuffle people over to without taking into consideration placement.

I think we can all work on this together but so far the response has been just push them to the city limits and close the gates.

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Voting closed 1

Last time this happened there were suddenly junkies camped out along the SW corridor in JP.

The solution is to tell the NIMBYs in Quincy to go fuck themselves and build that bridge again.

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Voting closed 27

There are a lot of services in Quincy and a shelter.

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Voting closed 3

The levels of violence increased after "Operation Clean Sweep" when the city told the cops to let public health take care of it. Apparently letting public health hand out orange juice and pamphlets has actually made things worse.

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Voting closed 18

Shouldn't we wait a few more days for a real mayor to implement their long term solution to this problem, instead of a temp sweeping all under a rug?

This looks like a sneaky way "to do something" without anyone taking real responsibility for it. If this was Janey's plan all along, why wait until rain and snow to do this? Are you seriously thinking all these people will willingly go to the sheriff's jail.

What is incoming administration stand on it? Is Wu administration agreeing with this plan and committing to go through to the end, or are they waiting where the wind will blow?

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Voting closed 8

Janey's plan is more then others have done in a while and seems somewhat well planned. No one would be helped to wait another month before trying something. If this works, it's a model for the next Mayor. If it fails, it will still be useful experiment.

Anyway, the real longer-term fix is a massive increase in public health spending by the state and feds. That isn't going to happen.

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Voting closed 35

This looks like a sneaky way "to do something" without anyone taking real responsibility for it. If this was Janey's plan all along, why wait until rain and snow to do this? Are you seriously thinking all these people will willingly go to the sheriff's jail.

What is incoming administration stand on it? Is Wu administration agreeing with this plan and committing to go through to the end, or are they waiting where the wind will blow?

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Voting closed 1

What “snow”? And pretty sure the mayor has no control over rain.

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Voting closed 8

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Voting closed 5

How much is this problem is the evil of good people idly watching this happen.

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Voting closed 9

We should all take moral posturing more seriously. That would help.

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Voting closed 11

But yes... this is a societal moral failure packaged to look like individual moral failures.

These are people that were produced by our society, and the numbers are growing.

Meth is being put into pressed street adderall pills now. Why? The cartels realized that there is a shortage of illicit pharmaceutical amphetamines due to tight controls at the distribution level. Even if someone sells their whole script, that's at most 90x30mg pills, 270mg. For reference, people use methamphetamine by the Gram. 270mg is just shy of 1/4 gram. That's not a profitable product and too much of a hassle.

Unless you make pills that look like adderall but fill it with the cheap meth you are already making. "We've already made fentanyl pills that look like perc 30s... why not methderalls?"

Point is - these are issues primarily facing the United States. Fentanyl is barely a thing overseas (other than estonia, which has it even worse than us, and has for a long time). It's a thing here because we've socialized people to self-medicate, and that process results in people self medicating in more and more desperate ways, as their lives become completely unmanageable. What happens to the babies born in these communities...what are those babies like at 22 years old?

Apologies if this is a bit tangential, I have many thoughts and I'm clearly fired up, lol. Thanks for your response <3

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Voting closed 6

Of Newton, Wellsely, Weston, Belmont etc.

Boston is the states flophouse?

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Voting closed 19

is it happening anywhere else in the city? Are there tents set up on the sidewalks in Southie? Mattapan? Hyde Park? Brighton?

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Voting closed 3

Get rehab and halfway houses, The Tents are only in one specific part of the city. Does that matter?

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Voting closed 2

Why don't we see tents on the sidewalks
Of Newton, Wellsely, Weston, Belmont etc.

That's what you posted. That's why I focused on the tents. Because that's what you said. Of course, if you are telling us that other parts of the city have those sorts of services also present at Mass & Cass, then I cannot say why that area specifically has become the way it has.

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Voting closed 6

has been the site of a tent encampment at times.

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Voting closed 7

Along the Alewife Brook, although those have been less conspicuous.

Once or twice a year someone will pitch a tent for a few days on the Boston or Cambridge side of the Charles further up river. It normally lasts for a week or two before MSP clears it out one morning.

In the suburbs you'll find people living in their cars.

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Voting closed 9

 

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Voting closed 4

Nodding out/camping out, minus the tents. Also, pretty much every underground T station.

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Voting closed 8

On the wooded hill overlooking Scarboro pond is home to at least a couple of tents used by homeless people. Not on the sidewalk though: There aren't any sidewalks on that section of Morton Street.

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Voting closed 1