In January, Mayor Martin Walsh shocked many by announcing that he planned to rebuild the Long Island Bridge and establish a recovery campus on the Island – which served the homeless population for years before it had to close some years back.
Since that big announcement, however, there hasn’t been a clear vision for what the mayor would want to put on the Island until Tuesday night, when he told the South End Forum that he envisions supportive housing – something like halfway houses – on the Island, both for-profit and non-profit.
“When I think about recovery, I think about what the need is right now in the Commonwealth,” he said. “The real need in recovery now is long-term supportive housing. I’m not talking about sober houses, but halfway houses…The real need in the Commonwealth now is recovery beds. That’s what we hope we can do on Long Island…This is hypothetical, but we would think of non-profit beds and for-profit beds like Gosnold on the Cape.”
As of now, the discussion about Long Island and the replacement of the Bridge has been about fighting Quincy.
The latest salvo in that battle has been the denial by the Quincy Conservation Commission, who refused to give an Order of Conditions due to the deteriorating nature of the bridge pilings – which were to be reused.
Mayor Walsh praised members of the South End for helping to submit letters in support of the bridge and the programs. He said there were more than 900 letters submitted in favor of the bridge, even though Quincy denied it.
“I will have to roll this out to those in Squantum soon, but they’re afraid I want to bring everything back,” he said. “I’m not bringing a homeless program back. I’m not bringing detox back. I’m only talking about supportive housing.”
He said such halfway houses are for three to six-month stays, are licensed by the state, require drug/alcohol testing and many require residents to get a job. Others, however, allow one to stay in and get on their feet while benefitting from the services offered at the home.
He said recidivism is very high during that period of time, and right now there aren’t enough beds to house people in that stage of recovery. He said he wants to fill that hole in the service chain.
“We want them to be in a place where they have everything they need to be successful,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do (on Long Island).”