Mayor Wu said today that 83 people who had been living in tents along Methadone Mile have been placed in new, "low-threshold" housing - with heat, hot water and ready access to counseling and health services.
At a City Hall press conference this morning, she said the remaining 62 or so people will be moved by Wednesday, when the city plans to remove any tents or other structure, a task that could take more than a day because some are "very large fortified structures."
Wu said answering the "humanitarian crisis" in the area centered around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard has required daily work by both city departments and outside agencies, such as the Pine Street Inn, to find housing that gives the people who lived in tents, sometimes for years, a respite from the increasingly harsh winters and help to begin to get them out of the conditions that led them there in the first place.
She added that work will continue at Mass and Cass because the people helped into new housing are only those who have lived there for a long time, that the city will continue to try to help the people who flit in and out of the area but who don't live in tents there. However, she said that after Wednesday, tents will simply not be allowed back.
"They are not a safe or healthy place for anyone to be living," she said, pointing to the lack of heat and water and a recent spate of fires as tent dwellers turn to propane tanks to try to stay warm.
Wu and Dr. Monica Bharel, who is coordinating the city's overall effort, emphasized they are dealing with the problem from a public-health and housing angle, to try to get what Bharel called "a fragile population" on the road to recovery, rather than simply having police round them up. Still, Wu emphasized that police will continue to go after people dealing drugs and committing crimes in the area.
Sheila Dillon, the city's chief of housing, said the city has identified a total of 200 units that will be used for Mass and Cass housing, including at the Roundhouse Hotel right at the intersection. She added that the opening of modular, temporary one- and tow-person units at Shattuck Hospital has been delayed until next week because of delays in getting electrical service to the area where the shelters have been put up.