Encampments Growing on Melnea Cass in South End

More and more people living in tents on the parkway alongside Melnea Cass Boulevard in the Alexandra Ball neighborhood have popped up over the last several weeks, and City officials say they do not yet have the proper protocol in place to legally move those encampments – leading residents to wonder if the practice will spread to other parts of the South End.

The encampments were a problem at the same spot, and by Boston Medical Center last summer until the City came in with the Mass/Cass 2.0 plan in the late summer and early fall. However, now more sophisticated encampments with several tents seem to be spreading on the Melnea Cass right-of-way.

One of the things that seems to be hampering the ability to remove the encampments are lack of a policy that, perhaps, meets legal muster.

City officials said they are still working on an encampment policy, which was promised in the Mass/Cass 2.0 plan.

The City indicated street outreach teams from the Boston Public Health Commission and Boston Police Department routinely visit where individuals experiencing homelessness congregate to connect them with housing and recovery resources. They call in Public Works when necessary to clean up trash build up.

This happened on Melnea Cass most recently last weekend.

Residents of Alexandra Ball Neighborhood Association said they are hoping to have a walk-thru with the City.

Sources with familiarity on the issue indicated there could be challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about removing encampments from public areas.

Others said the City has been working on the encampment policy for several months, and it was mentioned last fall as a key point in the Mass/Cass 2.0 plan. Some, however, wondered if there could be a successful policy or protocol crafted for such spaces.

It has been and is a consistent topic of conversation at the Mass/Cass 2.0 Task Force, as has been previously reported.

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