Tents still line the streets of the long troubled part of Boston, known as Mass. and Cass or Methadone Mile, which has been inundated with people struggling with homelessness and addiction.
Health officials were expected to clean and remove tents in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard Monday morning, but the process doesn't appear to be unfolding very quickly. The area, which sits between Roxbury and the South End, has become a haven for various crimes.
There didn't appear to be any fewer tents Tuesday morning on Southampton Street, Atkinson Street and Theodore Glynn Way from the day prior, when clean up efforts began.
Boston Public Health Commission employees were on scene Monday with bins to help people start to pack up their belongings, but no one or their personal belongings were seen being forcibly removed. City workers spoke with people about housing alternatives as well as options for mental health resources and treatment for drug addiction.
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Boston Mayor Kim Janey last week declared the rampant drug use and homelessness in the area a public health crises and vowed to remove the tents scattered along the sidewalks near the intersection.
Linda Sprague Martinez, an expert in social welfare policy at Boston University's School of Social Work, said she hopes the city continues to take a slow approach to the process. Martinez emphasized the importance of taking the time to ensure that the effort does not fail the neighborhood or the people who are living in the homeless encampment.
“We don’t need to say, ‘Rush, rush, rush. Everyone out.' That’s not going to solve the problem because what will happen is, there’ll be a new tent tomorrow, or it’ll pop up somewhere else," Martinez said. "I don’t think we can make an assumption that, ‘I know what’s best for you, I think you need to stop using drugs right away.' I think people need to hear their options."
Officials estimate about 150 tents need to come down, but the city has not provided a timeline for when they hope to have that completed.
At least one flier posted in the area notified residents of a cleanup starting at 7 a.m. Monday, citing “health, environmental and sanitary concerns."
A city spokesperson said in a statement that workers were "providing unsheltered people with options for shelter and services," and that clean-ups were being conducted where building maintenance had been scheduled.
"No person will be asked to move their tent as part of this effort without first being offered shelter," they added.
On Sunday, the city wouldn’t comment on a timeline for the cleanup, but said it would begin as soon as possible. It also reiterated that it wouldn’t force anyone out of a tent unless it found another place for them.
“Tents are not appropriate for housing. They lack clean water and adequate hygiene facilities,” Janey said during a news conference Tuesday. "These tents have become the site of infectious diseases, sexual assaults, human trafficking, potential overdoes and violence.”
The effort comes as the region gets hit with the first nor'easter of the season with wind gusts up to 70 mph. Our weather team issued a First Alert Monday for damaging wind, potential flooding and power outages. A second nor'easter could be coming later this week.