By Seth Daniel
An army of new triage workers for the City’s two homeless shelters in the Worcester Square area of the South End will hopefully curb some of the addiction-related issues that have grown exponentially over the past couple of years.
The final City Budget document contains 24 new triage workers for Woods-Mullen Shelter and the Southampton Street Shelter, bringing the total number of triage workers to 74. That was suggested by the City Council and was an increase of Mayor Martin Walsh’s recommendation of four new triage workers.
It accounts for an additional expenditure of $1.2 million.
The news was encouraging to those in the neighborhood who have struggled with the influx of addicted persons to add to the historic numbers that have existed there around the shelters and Methadone clinics for years.
George Stergios, president of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA), said the increase in spending is noteworthy.
“I am very happy to hear of the increase in triage workers,” he said. “From what we heard one of the main obstacles to clearing up Methadone Mile has been the difficulty of navigating the paths to recovery. Councilor (Anissa) Essaibi George is supposed to be part of a new task force on addressing recovery circles, along with some of us from WSANA, Chester Square, and other neighborhood organizations.”
Councilor Essaibi George said the task force is just now getting going, especially with a recent visit to Hope House on Southampton Street in Roxbury – just across Melnea Cass from the South End. She said she would like to see the triage workers on the street as well as in the shelter.
“I would like to see them do more substantial work in the street outreach,” she said. “I envision them really out there providing direct services and outreach so people can find the facilities or services or shelter…We’ve done a great job sheltering individuals at night, but not a great job at the daytime services. We want to do better.”
The funding for the new workers at the shelters came online this month with the new City Budget.