In recent weeks, many activists have focused on Donald Trump’s shenanigans. He really can’t help himself, can he? Other activists have been glued to their TV sets, computers and phones closely following the health care debate, as they should. However, while we’re distracted by the antics going on in D.C., things are going on in our own backyard.
A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Charlie Baker made his vetoes to the new budget, and it reads like a “who’s who” of services to the poor and homeless: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Services, Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, the Home BASE program, the Emergency Food assistance program, HIV/AIDS Prevention Treatment and Services, WIC, mental health services, etc.
Baker has been critical of the president more than once, but these cuts are very Trump-like. There really is no sane reason I can see for these cuts. I know fiscal conservatives will say it saves the state money, and yes it does—but only at the expense of poor and homeless people, who always feel the brunt of cuts whenever the state looks to save money, no matter who sits in the governor’s chair.
There has to be a better way to save the state money instead of cutting programs for people who need them the most. Oh, and Charlie’s not done yet—he’s also coming up with a plan that could possibly throw 140,000 people off MassHealth.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the city is coming up with a solution to address the problems on “Methadone Mile.” There are plans to build a tent or a day shelter behind Southampton Shelter. The plan is to herd people into this tent, provide television and let them drink and drug all they want. Sounds to this writer like, “You can die here, just not in the street where people can see you.” Harsh, I know, but what else is there to say? The city claims to be doing this for the safety of homeless people, but the real reason is to hide them from sight so the public doesn’t see them.
Instead of confronting or addressing the problem, they want to sweep it under the rug. This is nothing more than a reaction to complaints from businesses located on the mile; and although some efforts to address homelessness in the city have been somewhat successful, moves like this overshadow all that success.
There has even been talk of making use of the Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain as somewhere people can live there while they’re on the road to recovery. (Is it me or didn’t the city just shut down two similar programs?) One more thing: the city is willing to to set up a place where people can freely be high, but it’s against safe injection sites.
As I said, while we’re concentrating on Donald Trump, things are going on in our own backyard. We need to address them before they address us.