As someone who grew up in the shadow of old Boston City Hospital where my dad was employed for over 35 years, I remember back in the late ‘60s when the issue of drug addiction first, then homelessness, plagued the neighborhood around Worcester Square. I lived on East Springfield Street for many years growing up in my old hood.
I remember when the first methadone clinic opened up in the ground floor of the old Outpatient Building across the street from the City Spa Cafeteria where I worked my way through college. The methadone quickly became public enemy number one as clients to the clinic started making the immediate neighborhood nervous as they hung around all day doing good things but many bad things too. Some were using the area surrounding the clinic as their public restrooms, others were caught trying to sell their stuff, etc. I remember talking with Dr. Patch who opened this clinic back then. He was really trying to help these clients find freedom from their addictions.
Eventually, the clinic was re-located away from the neighborhood to a more isolated area back off Albany Street. Apparently, issues over placement of these clinics that started back in 1969 continue to this day.
I can remember back then as a 22 year old upset with the powers-that-be thinking that my neighborhood must have been useless because someone was always proposing a clinic, a shelter, something all the time as if we were the dumping ground for all society’s problems. Hey, at least today, clinics or shelters always come before the neighborhood to dialogue directly.
As City Councilor Frank Baker has said, “This neighborhood is going through a very, very tough time.” Might I add going back to when I was a young college student working behind the counter at the City Spa. After over 45 years now, residents of this little patch of the South End I called home have been treated like lab rats, testing theories on social issues. It is time to free this neighborhood from the addiction of social workers who can’t see the forest from the trees.
East Boston via South End