Aug 25, 2023 - News

Mayor Wu seeks to "empower" police action at Mass. & Cass

Photo illustration of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu with lines radiating from her.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu plans to file an ordinance Monday to "empower" police to remove tents and tarps in the encampment at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

Why it matters: Wu's proposal comes as reports of violence and public drug use at Mass. & Cass have increased.

  • The city has seen more than twice as many weekly EMS calls between May and July than it did in the same time frame last year, CBS Boston reported.

Driving the news: Wu told reporters on Friday that the proposal would only let police take down tents if people living there have already been offered shelter, transportation to get to the shelter and storage for their belongings.

  • The measure also authorizes housing at a new, temporary 30-bed facility in the South End for people experiencing homelessness.

Flashback: Wu had the tents removed last year and promised to work on the mental health and substance abuse problems at the heart of the crisis.

  • But after the encampment returned, Wu and others at City Hall admitted the strategy has to change.

Reality check: The ordinance will need to undergo a public hearing and a Boston City Council vote, which could take months.

  • Wu said she hopes it gets done before the winter.

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