Opiate Working Group Calls for More Information on 2.0 Implementation

Members of the South End Forum’s Opiate Working Group are calling for more detailed information to come available as the Mass/Cass 2.0 program begins its rollout in the neighborhood.

Moderator Steve Fox said the plan has been well-received over the last three weeks, but now many in the neighborhood are at a “What changed?” point in time.

“That’s part of what we’re hearing from the neighborhood,” said Fox. “They’ve heard about 2.0 and want to know what has changed with the dedication of resources…We had a Public Works truck spraying scented water on the street. People said they liked it, but wanted to know what it was. It really helps people to feel informed. I know it’s only three weeks in, but as these things happen, if that gets communicated out, we’ll all benefit.”

Jen Tracy, of the Office of Recovery Services (ORS), said the plan is still in its infancy, but many things are happening.

“I work in the neighborhood and you live in the neighborhood,” she said. “There are public safety vehicles all over the neighborhood in a way that wasn’t here two months ago. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of response from Public Works. They have committed to overnight cleaning and they’re very close to having the new team of street sweepers. They reported they are very close to hiring them and they should be out on the street in a couple of weeks.

“In a very short while, we’ll be choosing 24 people for the new Task Force,” she continued. “We’re on the timeline for that and feel good about the overall timeline.”

There is a goal to get a website up internally by December, and then public information should start feeding from that website.

When it comes to de-centralizing services, Tracy said they have started talks with the League of Health Centers to figure out what places might be ready to host things like a needle exchange – taking some of the pressure off of the AHOPE location on Albany Street.

“We’re working with the League and what community health centers are more ready to take that on,” she said. “It would be a very small program, but a start down that path.”

Said Fox, “Everyone in the neighborhood is waiting to see how de-centralization of services works and if it is real. I think that’s what everyone is waiting for and wanting to see.”

•Tracy said that the facilities report for Long Island is nearly complete – a key report that identifies the conditions of the buildings on the Island and whether or not they could be used again for recovery services.

She said the report is 90 percent done, and it would change everything on how planning for the Island is going.

“The facilities assessment is going to be big for us because it will propel us into our next phase of planning,” she said. “We will know what buildings out there we can use…We will start to visualize a campus and what will go where. With that knowledge, Mayor Walsh’s intent is to start a Phase 1.”

Of course, nothing on Long Island can happen without a Bridge, which is hotly debated in court right now with Quincy.

Needless to say, Tracy said they want to be ready with the campus when the Bridge is finally constructed.

“Whenever the litigation ceases, and after two years of bridge construction, it will lead us to something that’s already out there,” she said. “People are really excited and it is a vision of where the health care system needs to go.”

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