Roundhouse Fight May Not Be Over, But Janey Heard ‘Loud and Clear’

A plan for using the former Roundhouse hotel as a shelter or transitional housing is not completely off the table, according to Acting Mayor Kim Janey, but the neighborhood concerns were heard “loud and clear.”

In a press conference conversation about federal Rescue Plan dollars being spent partly on the homelessness and opioid crisis on Tuesday, Janey said the Roundhouse proposal might get a second airing.

However, she also said that the former plan by Victory Programs and the City that was soundly defeated by neighborhood and elected official opposition had been noted by the Administration.

“We will continue to work with residents in the area and non-profit leaders in this space to see if there’s an opportunity to do this as supportive housing,” she said during the press conference. “We heard loud and clear in the last community engagement process that there were concerns about this. We are doing supportive housing in other parts of our City as well. I know residents of this area felt like a lot was happening there. We’re also working with mayors in other cities to make sure there’s a regional approach. Too much of this problem has fallen on Boston and we’re encouraged by the investment of Gov. Baker to make sure there is more support across the Commonwealth.”

The plan for Victory Programs to use 14 to 35 units in the hotel at 891 Mass Avenue in the Newmarket Business District was roundly believed by the neighborhood and elected officials to also be a place the City wished to expand its low-threshold shelter operations – though no one from the City had ever said that publicly.

In a private meeting, Victory Programs officials indicated that Chief of Health Marty Martinez had indicated not using the remainder of the hotel for similar low-threshold services. Residents and elected officials, such as Councilor Frank Baker and State Rep. Jon Santiago, indicated they did not support the proposal – among many others.

The hotel use at the Roundhouse has been abandoned due to the pandemic pressures and the long-time homelessness and opioid quality of life issues that seemingly pinpoint outside the Roundhouse. Last year, Pine Street Inn temporarily used the hotel as overflow shelter space for homeless individuals that were in the process of transitioning to supportive housing elsewhere. They vacated the property on July 1.

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