Homeless encompment under Mass Ave. Bridge catches fire, shutting bridge and Storrow Drive

Smoke in the area near the Mass. Ave. bridge

Smoke pic by Benjamin Day.

The Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and the connecting Storrow Drive were shut this morning when a homeless encampment under the Boston side of the bridge caught fire, sending smoke billowing into the air and bringing firefighters racing from both Boston and Cambridge.

State Police report no injuries but that the bridge and the road will remain shut until after state engineers can inspect them to ensure no damage.

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Uh...

By on

Because they were homeless...and went there.

Is this a trick question?

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Voting is closed. 78

Hey man

By on

unless you are from another planet where homelessness is a non issue, most humans in Boston understand that an encampment under a bridge means human beings are living there who are homeless. So to ask the question, is, well...

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Snark Tags

We all forget them and all miss them from time to time.

/s We should feel sorry for Roman, as he's unemployed and day drinking/trolling /s

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Ask stupid questions

By on

How long has it been there? How many times had officers "shut it down" before today? Until you can answer either of those questions, then what right do you have to ask why it wasn't shut down or assume we're tolerating it being there? Your question is akin to "when did you stop beating your wife"?

I'll assume you probably didn't even know it was there before it had caught fire today since you want to know more about it now...which then suggests if it wasn't bothering you before now, then maybe that's the answer to both of your questions as well.

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Voting is closed. 19

It's not my job to seek out

By on

It's not my job to seek out homeless encampments. I know they exist in places like this, but I don't go poking around highway underpasses to find out exactly where. Nor should I.

There are people whose job it is to go to places like this. Highway maintenance workers, state police. Hopefully some social service workers as well. And I highly suspect they knew that there was an encampment under this bridge.

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Quite simply, homeless people

By on

Quite simply, homeless people have to go somewhere. I doubt many non-homeless spend time in or near the encampment to report them and force them out and to move on. It was a safe, overlooked space for them.

If you don't want encampments like this, where do you suggest they go? It's not as though there are enough beds (and even fewer safe beds!), and our society is such that we expect them to lift themselves by their boot straps without much or any assistance.

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Form a Brute Squad then!

By on

I want that homeless encampment cleared out before I marry the princess!

(Only slightly less detached from reality than the original post.)

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It was there because we live

It was there because we live in a capitalist society that necessitates a certain percentage of the population suffers in poverty.

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Unlike socialist societies

By on

that necessitate that everyone suffer in poverty.

Come off it dude. I was born in the Soviet Union. I read history. You ain't foolin' no one.

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The Soviet Union's economy

The Soviet Union's economy was state capitalism (not socialism), similar to current day China (mostly). Private capitalism and state capitalism are both deeply flawed systems. Capitalism was an improvement over feudalism, much like feudalism was an improvement over slavery. I'm not sure why you think that capitalism is a perfect economic system and we can't do any better.

What I'm trying to say is read more history, you fucking dunce.

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Voting is closed. 30

So now the Soviet Union was too capitalist?

By on

Whatever dude.

No matter what system you put in place, some people will not play by the rules and suffer the consequences. If your metric for "improvement" is how many fewer people will suffer the consequences, then you get right on back to mostly free-market capitalism as your best result to date, with socialism as a demonstrably worse option.

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Roman! I thought you read

Roman! I thought you read history, man! Yes, the USSR was capitalist. A country needs to be capitalist before it can become socialist. State capitalism was established after the Russian revolution with the intention of progressing to socialism (and eventually communism). They never made it past step 1. Lenin never referred to the Soviet Union as a socialist state. When Stalin came to power, he declared that the Soviet Union had achieved socialism as a propaganda method to improve morale. It wasn't true though (in the same way that it isn't true that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a Democratic People's Republic). The workers did not control the means of production, which means *DING DING DING* the Soviet Union was not socialist.

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You know what the letters USSR stand for, right?

By on

I mean, you can disagree with Roman on a lot of things, especially since he posits a viewpoint different than may readers here, but I will say that he probably knows a lot more about life in the Soviet Union than most of us, either first hand or from what his parents told him.

The state controlled the means of the production, and the state was and extension of the proletariat. Under capitalism, production is controlled by the elite, who exploit the proletariat to enrich themselves off the backs of the workers. Soviet state enterprises, for all their faults (and there were many, hence the collapse of the system) were owned by the state, so any success (see wheat exports) were for the people. That the system ultimately did not do what it was set up for is another story. I'm just kicking myself that I have thrown myself in to this discussion. I may not come back.

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I have some bad news for you

By on

about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. There's more to it than a name, and the USSR functioned more like oligarchical feudalism than capitalism or socialism.

Also:

he posits a viewpoint different than may readers here

I think you may have made a typo there; it's not "may readers here," it's "observable reality."

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lol

Saying state capitalism and private capitalism are both deeply flawed systems is like saying pizza and dog shit are both bad for you to eat large quantities of.

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lol

good enough.

In all seriousness, you do know what you said was pretty off base. Not a lot of people since 1917 were barging down the borders of the Soviet Union looking for work, safety, equality, civil rights, voting rights, money, etc......

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What?

By on

Not a lot of people since 1917 were barging down the borders of the Soviet Union looking for work, safety, equality, civil rights, voting rights, money, etc......

I did look rather carefully to see what comment you were responding to (it's not all that easy), and I'm damned if I can figure out what position you're supporting here.

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He was talking about the Soviet Union...

I think Roman and I could probably do very well in Sweeden or Finland. And those countries would probably let us immigrate there.

Those countries would not let the "unhappy" citizens of the US into any of those countries for countless reasons.

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"Socialist Societies"

By on

Nah, dude. Read what he wrote up top. He was using the Soviet Union as an example of a socialist society, as if a murderous Marxist-Leninist dictatorship is the only model of how people could live under socialism. I'm using Sweden and Finland because, you know, they still exist AND they tell a much different story of life under "Socialist Societies".

As to your comment about letting unhappy people in, a hugely separate topic and a non-sequitur here, I don't know what you're trying to imply. Do you think there are no native mentally ill people there who require medical care and housing?

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Zach, you’re the equivalent

By on

Zach, you’re the equivalent of a nazi, except you’re on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

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I appreciate the sentiment

By on

I appreciate the sentiment @zachandtired, but this isn’t the industrial reserve army (see, e.g., Marx).

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spikes are not the solution

By on

spikes are not the solution to homelessness, it just makes it worse.

homes are the solution to homelessness.

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Yes, because

By on

people were living there, hokey?

As of last January 2018 we had 20,000 people counted as homeless in the city of Boston. How many fires have we have? Can't think to too many, can you?

Compassion goes a long way, anon. Try it sometime.

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Um, way out of line.

By on

He has a point even if you don't like it. Does compassion = allowing people to live under a bridge and potentially harm themselves and others because they are living there in an unsafe environment? Allowing people to live under a bridge = the enabling sort of 'compassion' that does more harm than good.

And wipe off your potty mouth.

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No, not out of line at all.

By on

No, not out of line at all. This person has zero compassion for people who are homeless trying to seek the least bit of shelter from the elements in the winter. It's an inconvenience or an unwelcome reminder or an eye-sore or whatever to them. They're a POS and that's about the kindest thing I can say about them. Decorum and polite language is not more important than compassion and humanity. Get your priorities in order.

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Voting is closed. 27

what's the problem?

By on

if you cant take the heat get the fuck out of the kitchen.

he had a point to make. compassion is not something he understands.

I have a point to make, he should go fuck himself.

thanks for playing.

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goddamn

By on

what a fucking rube you are.

almost forgot:

go fuck yourself.

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REALY?

By on

why can't you respond to something or someone you disagree with ant Go FYS? Honestly, get real no one wants to debate a person who can only say F-off? I hope this helps you going forward. One more thing and this really helps: RESPECT

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REALLY!

By on

i could if i wanted. but i didnt.

if you want to listen to roman argue in bad faith or spout off hateful shit, or whatever else he does to get his rocks off. that's your game.

me? i'll continue to tell him to fuck himself.

and converse with the adults. hope that helps.

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Unsafe environment?

By on

Being unhoused is a fundamentally unsafe condition; it is also not something a person can simply stop being through force of will. Sleeping under a bridge with a group you trust is significantly safer than sleeping in the rain, alone.

What are you doing to help end homelessness?

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Lotta asshole comments on here today.

I'm far from being a member Roman's fan club, but the point he's raising here is far from insane. Reasonable people disagree on the degree to which specific behaviors are actually harmful, on the degree to which they should be tolerated (either explicitly or by looking the other way), and, more specifically, upon appropriate policy responses to homelessness.

"More homes" will solve some of the homelessness problem, but it will not solve the problem of people whose untreated or poorly managed mental illness, combined with lack of family and community, makes them incapable of living conventionally.

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Well, actually....

By on

The Housing First model tends to help stabilize people a tremendous amount so that they're in a place where they can get help with mental health issues, addiction, chronic illness, etc. Give someone a home without condition, and many, many of them will stabilize to the level that they can be at.

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Well you're safe then

By on

Compassion is like everything else. It's best in moderation.

Well you're safe then. The only thing you use in excess is racist dogwhistling and outdated nostalgia for a mythic past.

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Numbers

By on

Er, the point-in-time count for January 2018 showed 6,146 homeless persons in the City of Boston and only 163 of those were unsheltered (i.e. sleeping under a bridge or in a doorway). 20,000 people might have experienced homelessness during the year, but on a given night the count is going to be closer to the Point-In-Time Count number, with the number of unsheltered likely higher in the warmer months.

Massachusetts is a right-to-shelter state so going unsheltered is typically a choice driven by mental illness and/or substance/alcohol addiction. Pine Street Inn does quite a bit of outreach in trying to get the unsheltered into shelters, but the rules and/or shelter environment don't work for everyone.

The death rate for the unsheltered in Massachusetts is ten times that of the general population. That doesn't feel compassionate, either.

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Right to Shelter

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this law only applies to families with children, right?

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Yes.

By on

You are correct.

Single individuals do not have a right to shelter under ma law

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In 2018 The City of Boston

By on

In 2018 The City of Boston has 612 individuals experiencing chronic street homeless and 6146 individuals experiencing homelessness in shelters, agencies or doubled up. 20000 is the number for individuals experiencing homelessness in Ma.

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This is a symptom, not the problem itself

By on

Putting spikes up ..."to keep the homeless from invading our space" is not trying to do anything about the problem, it's simply trying to push it of onto someone/somewhere else. It's also cruel and mean-spirited.

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i prefer

my non sequiturs after 5 with a stiff drink, thanks.

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Nah, man. You see, if you

By on

Nah, man. You see, if you aren't on board with forcing homeless people out of the city or forcing them into the open elements because this guy up here prefers not to be reminded they exist, then that means you *must* leave your door unlocked and give away your bike. It's the same exact thing. It makes all kinds of sense if you don't think about it.

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At the risk of opening up a can of worms

By on

I wonder how the various participants in this debate feel about space savers, since we're discussing the ways in which people do and don't have a right to use public property.

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Nope, not intended to be such

By on

Just pointing out that the same people who don't want homeless people anywhere often think car owners should be able to lay claim to public spaces.

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I don't know about anyone else...

.... but I'm entirely consistent. I don't believe car owners ought to be able to claim exclusive use of a public parking space. And I don't believe anybody ought to be able to use the Esplanade as a campground.

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I will bet you

That I personally know, and am on friendly terms with, and have shared my lunch with, more homeless people than most people on here. I can still smell on my gloves the guy whom I helped up in the street yesterday and stayed with until he could support himself upright. Having compassion is not incompatible with understanding the degree to which one guy with active delusions and a knife in his back pocket can really fuck up your whole day.

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Not even remotely a non-sequitur

Spikes, like locks, are a physical means to deter people who don't have rights to use a specific piece of property from using it for purposes that the property owner doesn't want to allow.

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so

might i ask: who owns the Mass. Ave bridge - and more specifically the space underneath it?

answer carefully, remembering the conservative tenets of small government and public land use.

i’ll wait.

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Easy answer

Who owns the mass ave bridge and the space underneath it?

We the public.

Just as we own the runways at Logan Airport.

Just as we own the nuclear missiles onboard the USS Ohio.

And, we have delegated to our elected government the stewardship authority to manage those assets that we own.

Part of that stewardship authority includes the authority to regulate who gets to hang out under the bridge, walk on the runways, or push the launch buttons on the boat.

This is not a particularly controversial area of political theory or law.

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oh ok.

are the homeless part of the public?

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You're being obtuse

The homeless are every bit as much a part of the public as I am.

They have the same rights, privileges, and obligations as I do.

They have the same ownership stake in public property as I do.

Their vote, to choose the representative government that manages public property, counts just as much a mine does.

They have the same rights to be on the publicly owned land under the Mass. Ave. Bridge, to walk onto the publicly-owned runway at Logan Airport, or to fiddle with the publicly-owned launch controls on a publicly-owned submarine as I do.

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When

By on

is the last time you tried walking down the runway at Logan?

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Only kind of woosh

By on

Massport is a quasi government agency. It's not using your tax dollars. At all.

I think you might have chosen a different agency to make a better point, is all.

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Maybe?

By on

It's state owned, so, yes?

maybe I'm wrong. wouldn't be the first time. ;-)

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Not controversial

By on

Unless you don't want yellow corners on your intersections. Then it gets all sorts of controversial as to what "we" are allowed to do with our public streets.

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Only sort of.

Whether or not we get yellow plastic on our street corners is determined by the government we have democratically elected. Said government is also required to follow the law. There is a legal process to determine whether the government is acting within the rights we have delegated to it or not. Legal and political processes are places in which competing and conflicting interests are represented. Not everyone gets their way. On the matter of the yellow plastic street corner things, the law allowed Walsh to bypass the normal operation of the political and legal process and get his way by declaring a public safety emergency, just as Trump is looking to do with his Mexico wall.

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If, in fact...

By on

...it is private property.

I believe this is also something of a fuzzy area - for example, as when a private business makes use of the public sidewalk, which quite a few do in Boston.

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It is illegal

For a private business to display merchandise, signboards, etc. on public sidewalks is illegal. Plenty of businesses do it, and the city is lax about enforcing it, but the legality is not fuzzy.

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Apologies!

By on

Were you wanting use of the underside of the Mass Ave bridge, but were prevented from people simply trying to seek out shelter?

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No, but...

Were you wanting use of the underside of the Mass Ave bridge, but were prevented from people simply trying to seek out shelter?

No, but I was wanting use of the Mass Ave Bridge and Storrow Drive for purposes of transport, and was prevented from doing so by people setting the place on fire.

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oh wow good point

your desire to cross a public bridge is much like your desire to use my private bike!

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wooosh!

your desire to cross a public bridge is much like your desire to use my private bike!

No, my desire to cross a public bridge is like my desire to use my private bike. If someone else's illegal activity damages either the bridge or the bike, then I have a problem with it.

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being

homeless is illegal?

EDIT: i'm going to ward off your inevitable obtuseness by pointing out that nothing in the OP or MSP tweet suggests any illegal activity. so you must be referring to the legality of homeless encampment itself, unless you're privy to info none of us has.

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Voting is closed. 7

Who ever said that being homeless was illegal?

Just to clarify where I'm coming from, I believe that we have a moral obligation to provide warm, dry, safe housing to anybody who needs it who cannot provide it for him or her self.

That is completely orthogonal, of course, to the question of whether the encampment under the Mass. Ave Bridge is legal.

If the property in question is controlled by the DCR, which, it being adjacent to Storrow Drive, seems a good bet, then here are the applicable regs that would, on first inspection, appear to make camping there illegal.

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/xn/3021200.pdf

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So.....

By on

If we have a moral obligation to provide this warm dry safe housing as you believe we do, but aren't.

What are folks supposed to do?

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What are folks supposed to do?

If we have a moral obligation to provide this warm dry safe housing as you believe we do, but aren't.

What are folks supposed to do?

By "folks" do you mean you and me? Vote for representatives who promise to meet this obligation. Lobby existing representatives to do something. Donate time and money to private charities that help.

If you mean homeless folks, they're in an impossible situation. If they had our (the public's) support? Sit in in the lobby of the state house and say "we're not going away until the state does something to meet its obligation?

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Thanks for clarifying

By on

Sorry yeah I wasn't clear by folks. I did mean the homeless folks in the impossible situation. I hear you on the homeless going to the statehouse and occupying it until action is taken. I'm sure that would work. It's just feels less effective when the statehouse is closed and there are no shelter beds available, I guess I'm thinking how they solve the homeless situation for the night? Then I suppose that the moral obligation you were talking about feels less about providing actual shelter for those that need it and more about how to lobby effectively.

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For certain

One thing I have learned with increasing age is that I am not a better person than any of the people living under that bridge.

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