Boston makes final push to clear out homeless encampment

Jan 12, 2022, 11:02 AM | Updated: Jan 13, 2022, 7:35 am

BOSTON (AP) — Workers started removing the last tents Wednesday morning from a once-sprawling homeless encampment at a Boston intersection known as Mass and Cass.

City public works employees driving bulldozers loaded tents, tarps and other detritus, including milk crates, wooden pallets and coolers, into trash trucks to be hauled away, and street sweepers moved in once a section was cleared.

New Mayor Michelle Wu had pledged by Wednesday to get housing for people living in tents near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Wu acknowledged that it may take more than a day to remove some of the remaining tents.

“Our goal from the beginning here was to take a different approach, one that was really grounded in the root causes of homelessness and the crises that people are living with here,” Wu, who took office in November, said at the scene.

Social workers helped people who had not yet left the camp, while police were also at the scene Wednesday. Wu and other city officials have said that they do not want to criminalize homelessness, and that officers were there to keep the peace.

Christopher Berrios, a 28-year-old homeless resident, said he lost his job due to COVID-19 and it was hard for him to find a place to stay given the high cost of housing.

“The rent out here in Boston — it’s expensive to get an apartment. Even to get a room, it was expensive,” he said. “Before I was living with my mom and stuff, but then she ended up moving to a one-bedroom apartment, so I couldn’t move with her, you know, because it was a one bedroom.”

The city has approached the encampment as a humanitarian and public health crisis because many of its residents were drawn by methadone clinics and social services in the area and were considered vulnerable to trafficking and other dangers.

A city survey in December found as many as 140 people living in the camp, where drug dealing and use often occurs in the open.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the former state public health commissioner who is now leading the city’s efforts in the area, said that as of Wednesday morning, more than 100 people who had been living in the encampment had been relocated to temporary housing.

The goal is to eventually move people into permanent housing, city officials said.

Some remain skeptical of the city’s plan, concerned that people with no where else to go will continue to gather in the area.

“Until people answer questions, I’m very suspicious,” City Councilor Frank Baker said at a virtual community meeting Tuesday night. “I’m interested in what this is going to look like in the next few months.”

Cleanup of the area began in October under then-acting Mayor Kim Janey, who declared addiction and homelessness a public health emergency.

The city Public Health Commission cited unhygienic conditions, such as a lack of running water and bathrooms, and the susceptibility of residents to “human trafficking, sex trafficking, and other forms of victimization,” in its emergency declaration last year.

Berrios, who said he’s been living on the street for two years, said he welcomed the chance to have a more permanent place to live.

“It’s a great thing that this is happening today, you know, because everybody’s now moving into shelters or getting an apartment,” Berrios said.

___

Associated Press writer Mark Pratt contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Republican Gov. Brian Kemp waves to supporters during an election night watch party, May 24,...
Associated Press

Ousters, upsets halfway through 2022 primary election season

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than halfway through a tumultuous primary season, voters have rendered verdicts in a number of contests, many of which featured candidates arguing they best represented a continuation of policies favored by former President Donald Trump. While not on the ballot himself, Trump has played a role in several races, with […]
8 hours ago
Yellow tape marks bullet holes on a tree and a portrait and flowers create a makeshift memorial on ...
Associated Press

US: Shot that killed journalist likely fired from Israelis

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have concluded that gunfire from Israeli positions likely killed Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh but that there was “no reason to believe” her shooting was intentional, the State Department said Monday. The finding, in a statement from State Department spokesman Ned Price, came after what the U.S. said was inconclusive […]
8 hours ago
A shoe was abandoned in front of the shopping centre Fields, closed for at least a week after Sunda...
Associated Press

Motive likely not terror-related in ‘brutal’ Danish shooting

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A gunman who killed three people when he opened fire in a crowded shopping mall acted alone and apparently selected his victims at random, Danish police said Monday, all but ruling out that the attack was an “act of terrorism.” Authorities filed preliminary charges of murder and attempted murder against a […]
8 hours ago
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2019, photo, a guard stands in the intake area at the Adelanto ICE Processi...
Associated Press

Immigration detention facility near empty in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sprawling, privately run detention center in the wind-swept California desert town of Adelanto could house nearly 2,000 migrants facing the prospect of deportation. These days, though, it’s nearly empty. The Adelanto facility is an extreme example of how the U.S. government’s use of guaranteed minimum payments in contracts with private […]
8 hours ago
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, front, arrives for the 'Concerted Action', a meeting of representati...
Associated Press

German leader gathers employers, unions to tackle inflation

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gathered top employer and labor union representatives at his Berlin office on Monday to seek ways of addressing the impact of rising prices while preventing a spiral of inflation in Europe’s biggest economy. The government billed Monday’s meeting as the first in a series aimed at finding a […]
8 hours ago
Chari Baker, front, gestures as she confronts Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a restaurant Wednesda...
Associated Press

Virginia law stops early inmate releases, angering families

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Christopher Ford was a baby when his father was sentenced to 28 years in prison for participating in a murder-for-hire scheme that led to the killings of two people at a car dealership. After serving 25 years, prison officials told Robert Glenn Ford he would be released in July under a […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Boston makes final push to clear out homeless encampment