Andrea In The News | Press Releases

Andrea Campbell Joins Neighborhood Leaders and Activists To Push For Action On Mass & Cass: “We Need Leadership and Action from the Mayor’s Office”

Sep 01, 2021

On First Day of National Recovery Month, Campbell Pushes for Plan to Appoint Mass & Cass Chief, Create Dedicated First Responder Unit, and Make Recovery Services Accessible Citywide

BOSTON – Today, City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell decried the City’s failure to address the growing public health and safety crisis at Mass Ave and Melnea Cass Blvd and surrounding neighborhoods, and laid out what she would do as Mayor to bring the necessary urgency and action to this issue at a press conference at Clifford Park on Mass Ave.

Despite worsening conditions for individuals suffering from substance use disorder, mental illness, and homelessness, and demands for action from local residents, businesses, and advocates, Acting Mayor Janey cancelled the last two meetings of the Mayor’s Mass & Cass Task Force, permanently closed the comfort station on Atkinson St, and has yet to take any substantive action or release a plan to improve conditions in the area. Other candidates in this race have also failed to prioritize or take action on this issue with the level of urgency residents and advocates are demanding.

“Closing a comfort station without a clear, comprehensive plan for the area will not bring relief to the residents of these communities,” said Councilor Campbell. “People are dying in increasing numbers every day, either from opioid overdoses or from incidents that escalate with violence. As this crisis worsens in our Roxbury and South End neighborhoods, there is deepening frustration and fear among residents and local businesses that more people will continue to suffer, and that these neighborhoods will never come back. If there ever was a moment for leadership, it is now.”

Campbell was joined by residents, advocates from the South End Roxbury Community Partnership, local business owners, and healthcare workers. Neighborhood leaders echoed Campbell’s call for action and applauded her plan, including George Stergios, president of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA), and Sue Sullivan, President of Newmarket Business Association.

“As the president of WSANA, the association for the neighborhood directly abutting Mass and Cass, I have witnessed the spiral of human misery because of the city’s unwillingness to abandon its politically expedient policy of concentrating the homeless population and addiction services here,” said George Stergios. “Andrea Campbell was the first candidate with the courage to draw up a detailed plan that would reverse the policy of centralization and begin to deliver relief to the South End, Roxbury, and Lower Roxbury, while providing services in an environment that helps rather than hinders substance abuse recovery. That’s the leadership we need in the mayor’s office.”

“The businesses and residents here in Newmarket and the surrounding area are facing overwhelming quality of life issues every day. As we all know, hard problems require bold, immediate action. That is the kind of action required to address the unsafe conditions and violence that the open drug market in this area has caused,” said Sue Sullivan, President of Newmarket Business Association. “As a member of the task force and a community leader who has been advocating for city action, I appreciate Andrea’s determination to address these needs.”

In January, Campbell was the first mayoral candidate to release a plan for Mass & Cass. Campbell’s plan outlines three key strategies:

  1. Appoint a public health professional to serve as Mass & Cass chief, someone who would be exclusively responsible for coordinating the city’s public health and public safety response while building and implementing a plan to decentralize services from the area. A city chief coordinating internal city employees and external stakeholders will ensure all stakeholders are sharing data and working from the same plan to carry out an effective and impactful response.

  2. Establish a dedicated first responder unit with the expectation that these responders — including mental health counselors, recovery specialists, community health workers and first responders — would work collaboratively, with mayoral oversight and leadership, to de-escalate violence and provide residents access to supportive housing, recovery services and other necessary resources.

  3. Reactivate Long Island’s recovery campus, which is critical to solving the larger issues of substance use and homelessness in Boston, through ferry service to the island. Rebuilding the bridge is a long-term goal, but using ferry service would jumpstart use of the island now.