What Michelle Wu said about the Mass. & Cass Engagement Center and the decentralization of addiction services


The center closed late last month after a series of stabbings were reported nearby.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu pauses during a ceremony at Boston City Hall on Nov. 16, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Mayor Michelle Wu said Monday that city officials are working to add locations where people struggling with substance abuse and homelessness can access resources outside of the area known as Mass. and Cass.

Wu’s comments came after the city temporarily closed its Engagement Center in the neighborhood late last month following a series of reported stabbings nearby, including some inside the shelter. The closure came just months after the center opened, as the city removed tent encampments in the area in a bid to connect people to services and housing.

Since the closure, the center has not operated at full capacity, according to WBUR.

On Monday, Wu, during an appearance on the radio station’s “Radio Boston,” said the city has so far placed about 180 people in housing, but crowds are gathering in the area again, posing challenges. of security.

“We continue to see with the hot weather, large crowds gathering, and that has been difficult for public safety,” Wu said. “It has been difficult because there are other problems that are related to the crowds.”

Asked if it’s not safe to have the center open, Wu said only that center staff and the Boston Public Health Commission are working to increase access to resources and programming throughout the city and “not have everything concentrated in one place.

“We are looking to add venues in different parts of the city or coordinate with service providers that are already operating in different parts of the city and achieve closer transportation coordination,” Wu said. “But we are working very quickly on that and we want to make sure that everywhere in the city is safe and that we can start to expand access and decentralize.”

Local leaders have long sought to decentralize programs, which range from methadone clinics to other substance abuse treatment.

On the campaign trail last year, Wu called for a decentralized approach to the humanitarian crisis in Massachusetts and Cass.

Their plan outlined “a thoughtful approach to locating substance use disorder recovery services and supportive housing throughout the city based on a hub-and-spoke model to avoid imposing additional transportation burdens on people who need multiple services.”

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