• Thu. Sep 22nd, 2022

Boston begins cleaning up Mass and Cass homeless camp ahead of mighty Northeast

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Oct 25, 2021

City officials dressed in yellow raincoats began going from tent to tent Monday morning at Mass and Cass, handing out storage bins and preparing to clean up the sprawling homeless encampment that has turned into a market outdoor drugs.

Boston Public Health Commission workers moved methodically through the area also known as the Methadone Mile, taking the time to help occupants pack their belongings and transport them to temporary housing.

They focused only on the block of Theodore Glenn Way and Southampton Street. Several other boulders are targeted for cleanup, but a torrential torrent hit the area on Tuesday.

  • BOSTON MA – October 25: Members of the Boston Public Health Commission provide storage bins for homeless people to get out of tents in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Mohammed gathers his things and...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: Mohammed gathers his things and exits his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Boston Public Workers...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: Boston Public Health Commission workers review documents in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA – October 25: A sign taped to a...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: A sign taped to a makeshift tent in the Methadone Mile area explaining that all belongings must be removed on the morning of October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: A member of the Boston...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: A member of the Boston Public Health Commission offers a homeless man a trash can to get out of his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Members of the Boston Public...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: Members of the Boston Public Health Commission attempt to extricate homeless people from their tents in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Members of the Boston Public...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: Members of the Boston Public Health Commission attempt to extricate homeless people from their tents in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Lynn's Tasha Moncrief helped...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: Tasha Moncrief of Lynn helps her son Anthony Morris clean up his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - Oct 25: A bruised and battered Wendell...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: A bruised and battered Wendell Wilson sticks his head out of his tent knowing he has to leave the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - Oct 25: A man tries to keep...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: A man tries to stay dry as he gathers his things and exits his tent near the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - Oct 25: Mohammed with the leadership of...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: Mohammed with leadership of the Boston Public Health Commission gathers his belongings and exits his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - Oct 25: Mohammed with the leadership of...

    BOSTON MA – Oct 25: Mohammed with leadership of the Boston Public Health Commission gathers his belongings and exits his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - October 25: Storage bins are delivered by...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: Storage bins are delivered by the City of Boston for homeless people to get out of their tents in and around Methadone Mile on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA – October 25: Anthony Morris cleans up his...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: Anthony Morris cleans his tent in the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON MA - Oct 25: A bruised and battered Wendell...

    BOSTON MA – October 25: A bruised and battered Wendell Wilson walks out of his tent knowing he has to leave the Methadone Mile area on October 25, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

The powerful storm with 50mph gusts of wind was a concern for Suffolk Sheriff Steven Tompkins, who said his office was about three weeks away from bringing potentially 100 people into jail treatment space.

“The city is doing an admirable job (Monday),” Tompkins told the Herald. “We will have to see what happens tomorrow and after. My concern is tomorrow when the northeast rain blows on the tents.

Before the Northeast, the city reminded people that BPHC emergency shelters at 112 Southampton St. and 794 Massachusetts Ave. are open 24/7 for those looking for shelter from the storm.

Lynn resident Tasha Moncrief drove to Southampton Street on Monday to help her 28-year-old son Anthony Morris get out of the Mile.

“I feel like it’s an emergency. I felt like if I didn’t come here I was going to have a dead child,” she said. “I’m just trying to support him, get him to help.”

Just a few years ago, her son was a full-time student at the University of Rhode Island. He dropped out in his senior year, after he started using drugs, she said.

“It could happen to anyone,” she said.

Leaflets posted in the area Sunday warned the homeless population that the city would begin a “general cleanup of this public space” beginning at 7 a.m. Monday.

The order took the occupants of the area by surprise.

Morris found out Monday morning and contacted his mother, who helped him move his things to the trunk of his car so they could get to a local hospital. She told the Herald that another local person broke her son’s arm earlier in the summer and he has since suffered from an infection near the wound.

Wendell Wilson, who has lived on the Mile for several months, said none of the city workers explained the cleaning process to him. He plans to go to a shelter, but says the condition of some of them is just a cut above living in a tent.

“It’s a fight. The shelter isn’t always the most hygienic place to go either, and a lot of people avoid it because of that,” he said.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey said last week that the roughly 150 tents that have been erected in the area will be removed.

“The City will continue regular cleanings and post notices that tents should be removed,” a city spokesperson said Monday. “This week, cleanups will be carried out in targeted areas for scheduled building maintenance. No one will be asked to move their tent as part of this effort without first being offered shelter.

Rick Sobey contributed to this report.