By Seth Daniel
One of the things that bogs down the Washington Street business district is trash, and a new program and partnership between Washington Gateways Main Streets and the South End’s Project Place has successfully put a dent in the rubbish on Washington Street.
Using funding from successful capital campaigns, Gateways has been able to hire the services of Project Place clients to clean the street twice a week from Herald Street to Massachusetts Avenue.
“One thing we heard over and over from businesses when we sought feedback was that the street wasn’t as clean as it used to be,” said Kristin Phelan, president of the Board. “It’s really a win-win-win because Washington Gateways is using a local non-profit that serves the needs of homeless people and actually is in the Main Streets district – and the streets and bus stations are cleaner for the businesses.”
Gateways Director Jennifer Effron said the plan right now is to employ the service twice a week for six months, with the hope that funding will come through for additional clean ups.
Project Place’s Sarah Argeropoulos said they see it as a big win for their clients and the Gateways, which is the district their headquarters is located within.
“I agree that it’s a win-win for everyone,” she said. “The community is cleaner and we’re taking part in that and we’re training people to work at the same time.”
So far, the Project Place Clean Corners, Bright Hope team has been out since Nov. 9 and has made a significant dent in the trash.
Crews collect between four and six bags per day or eight to 12 bags per week, Project Place said.
Each bag is 25 to 30 pounds.
So, after five weeks completed last week, they estimated they had removed 1,250-1,500 pounds of trash.
“The workers take ownership and great pride in it and we encourage that,” said Argeropoulos, who noted that the Clean Corners team is one of four social enterprises that uses work as a teaching tool for those formerly homeless or formerly incarcerated. “They all come with a positive attitude…A lot of our clients want to give back to the community now that they are stale enough to do that – where before they were homeless or incarcerated or addicted.”
Clean Corners, Bright Hope has been operating for about 10 years and counts Fenway Park as one of its major clients. However, an earlier version of the Main Streets program began in Chinatown, where that organization hired Project Place to clean its streets.
That was seen as a model that Effron said Gateways wanted to emulate, and the program got the support it needed earlier this year when they were able to announce it at the Gateways Neckties Gala.
More Project Place partnership efforts to keep Methadone Mile clean also announced
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced on Monday a new partnership with Boston University and Project Place as part of an ongoing effort to improve the neighborhoods around the Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue intersection through targeted investments in beautification, public safety and enhanced homeless and addiction recovery services. The neighborhood will be cleaned five days a week by Project Place, an area non-profit that provides employment opportunities for low income and homeless individuals.
Over the summer, Mayor Walsh convened a group of City departments to better coordinate City efforts around the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. As one of its core goals, this group is focused on ensuring the streets are well-maintained, including more consistent cleanup, landscaping and public art. With its Medical School campus in this neighborhood, Boston University immediately stepped up to assist with this effort.
The Project Place’s Clean Corners Bright Hopes program has dedicated more than 75 hours a week to act as ambassadors in the area around Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. This work includes picking up litter and discarded syringes, maintaining planters at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Southampton Street, and acting as a friendly face for visitors to the neighborhood.
Continuing to work on beautification is one of the City’s top priorities. In addition to Project’s Place work to clean the neighborhood, Mahoney’s Garden Center has provided flowers at reduced cost.