Last month, I read with  huge disappointment that the  Massachusetts Attorney General  Maura Healy seemed to be all  in on Suffolk County Sheriff  Steve Tompkin’s inhumane  proposal (in this writer’s  opinion) to put those who are  dealing with substance abuse  and homelessness into an empty  detention facility. 

I call it inhumane because  the plan was just to literally  just snatch people of the street  against their will and commit  them to a…well, let’s call it what  it is: jail.  

Now eviction notices have  been given to those living in  the area around Massachusetts  Avenue and Melnea Cass  Boulevard. It all sounds like something out of a secret police nightmare.  

So, this is what it has come  to? A city that has run out of  ideas on how to deal with the  problems that plague Mass  and Cass and homelessness in general is actually willing  to listen to a law enforcement  official who naturally wants to  lock everybody up.  

Like that will solve the  problem. Here’s a newsflash for the  AG and anyone else who thinks Tompkin’s idea is a solution: it’s  not. and how did we even get  here? Maybe begin there. It’s  hard to believe that it’s been  seven years since the sudden  closure of Long Island Shelter.  If you really want to put your  finger on blame for “The Mile,”  then that is as good as any place  to start.  

Let’s put aside for a moment  the reason for the closure and  the ongoing feud with Quincy. There didn’t seem to be a  plan in place by the Walsh  administration, which, frankly, seemed more interested in the  Olympics coming to Boston  than people’s lives.  

The Southampton shelter  was opened after pressure from  homeless-led groups. But mostly  people were on their own. There  were recovery programs and  other support initiatives on the  Island. Many in those programs  — primarily those in recovery  with little or no support once the  Island was closed — relapsed.  

No surprise there. Many ended up on the mile.  Those that lived, that is. Probably one of the biggest  mistakes in all of this is the  lack of homeless voices in this  discussion. How can people who have  absolutely no idea about  homelessness or substance abuse  make decisions about people’s  lives?  

Instead, as usual, people  are playing politics, and, of  course, the narrative from  them and some media outlets  offers no resolution but the  criminalization of the poor folks  who live in tents — lock them up  against their will. I hear people saying what else  are we supposed to do? Try asking those folks whose  lives are affected by the decision  you are making for them.  

I’m sure they will tell you. 






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