Boston Methadone Mile hotel plan hits the ropes after “clear opposition from the community”
Controversial plans to house homeless people in a Methadone Mile hotel are on the ropes after a heated closed-door meeting, with the main proponent saying she thinks twice in the face of “clear opposition from the community.”
“Is the plan alive to this day?” I don’t know, ”Sarah Porter of Victory Programs told the Herald on Saturday afternoon. “Is the plan dead from today?” I do not know.”
Porter’s Victory Programs is using state grant money to rent out what is known as the “Roxbury Roundhouse,” a closed Best Western hotel at 891 Massachusetts Ave. It is right in the heart of the “Mass and Cass” or “Methadone Mile”, an increasingly serious refuge for violence and outdoor drug trafficking and consumption.
The plan, backed by a state grant and a push from the city, would put 14 to 35 people who currently live on the streets nearby in “transitional housing” to stabilize them and then move them out of the area. .
Porter said a controversial Friday night virtual meeting for some advocates and local officials made “clear opposition from the community” even more evident. As they told the Herald, residents fear the Roundhouse plan will only worsen problems in the South End, and they say it goes against the long-standing push to ‘decentralize’ services. addiction out of Mass and Cass.
“I’m not going to say ‘community opposition be damned, I’m going with that anyway,'” Porter said, acknowledging the uncertainty.
She maintains that the plan as a whole is good and that the hotel building would be a highly secure and important way to help people get off the streets and recover from a recovery process.
And Porter insisted that when she started working on the plan several months ago, several state and city officials agreed with her. Porter declined to name names, but said, “There were elected officials behind the idea who have since changed their minds.”
She said her next steps would be to talk to these people and see what happened.
This week, City Councilors Frank Baker and State Representative Jon Santiago, who both represent the area, and City Councilor Ed Flynn, whose neighborhood is next door, all told the Herald they didn’t didn’t like the direction the plan was taking.
Flynn after the meeting told the Herald that the people of the South End and Roxbury “deserve their voices to be heard and respected. This does not happen.
Porter said she also needs to check with the city and see if she still plans to donate any money.
The decision to rent three floors of the hotel and currently house a few dozen people would be primarily funded by a state grant from January – but with the city filling the “funding gap” that stems from the decision to rent the whole hotel, as VP has been in negotiations to do so.
And there is the real problem. What worries many locals far more than Porter’s stated goal is the specter of the idea that the city intends to turn the entire 200-room hotel into a giant shelter just over Methadone Mile.
And while Porter says these aren’t her plans at all, she says she understands why people are pissed off.
“I have nothing to say to alleviate this concern,” Porter said. She insisted she was the one leading the lease negotiations for the property – not the city – but, “It’s not like I can say the city is out of the question.”
And furthermore, she, like some neighbors, noted that Boston Heath chief Marty Martinez recently said it would be “unethical” for all of those other beds to stay open in an area where so many people are. were homeless – a comment that stirred up the neighbors. fears the city is trying to ‘shoehorn’ more people into the Roundhouse.
But Porter said for his purposes: “I don’t have the capacity to staff, manage and operate the other rooms” outside of the two floors of the transitional housing and one of the collective uses.
Martinez, who leads the city’s approaches for Mass and Cass and the opioid efforts in general, told the Herald on Friday that the city had “no plan” to pack people into every room, and it does. is not what is happening. He said acting Mayor Janey’s administration supported Porter’s plan and insisted the vice president is in charge.