At the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston, you will find a homeless encampment known locally as “Methadone Mile.” The area lies in the shadow of one of the city’s busiest hospitals, Boston Medical Center, but is anything but healthy. Dialynn Dwyer reports on Boston.com:
The leader of the Greater Boston Food Bank is calling on city officials to take decisive action and address the public health emergency in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, which has become the epicenter of the opioid epidemic and crisis of homelessness in the region.
In speaking out about the issue, Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of the nonprofit, is joining the chorus of business leaders, neighbors, and advocates who have been pressing for more to be done to address the worsening conditions on the city blocks, which have seen a drastic increase in the number of people living on the streets since July.
The impacts related to substance use, homelessness, and mental health in the stretch of city blocks surrounding Mass. Ave. and Melnea Cass Boulevard, an area dotted with shelters and supportive services sometimes referred to disparagingly as “Methadone Mile,” are not new.
But the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the crisis. Safety has become such an issue in the area that the city closed its “comfort station” on Atkinson Street, which was initially opened last year to address the surge in demand for basic services like bathrooms, handwashing stations, and outreach stations.
D’Amato told Boston.com it was around Aug. 1 of this year when things really started to get out of control on Atkinson and Topeka streets, with the number of tents and temporary shelters on the roads growing from a handful to around 200.
“There are so many more people — it is now a tent city,” she said.
The neighborhood has seen fatal stabbings, robberies, and destruction of property, with garbage — including discarded needles and human waste — littering the streets.
“It’s dangerous,” D’Amato said.
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