City Initiates Team to Clean Up Human Waste on Private Property Citywide, With Focus on South End

The City announced Wednesday afternoon it had officially contracted with a company that will be available to remove human excrement from private property citywide, but particularly in the South End where the issue has been a major frustration for residents throughout this pandemic summer.

City officials told the Sun the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) contracted for removal and disinfecting of public defection on private property as part of a citywide pilot program. That program will be rolling out next week.

Mayor Martin Walsh addressed the issue on Monday night at the South End Forum online meeting, and hinted that an announcement was coming this week.

“I’m hearing it’s happening in other parts of the city as well, but nothing close to what you’re dealing with in the South End,” he said. “When we closed libraries and businesses down, there was no place for people to use the bathroom. We’ll be hiring a company soon to pick up waste on public property and on private property as well.”

The process will work using 311. Upon receiving a 311 request for pickup in private property, a team will be dispatched within 24 hours for cleanup. From June to September 2020, the majority of the 311 reports related to this issue came from the South End and Back Bay, as well as the North End and Downtown Boston. Residents began to notice an uptick in the vulnerable population from Mass/Cass toileting on their private property soon after the COVID-19 lockdowns began. It was soon discovered the reason was many of the public bathrooms that population relied upon were now closed. It resulted in a major problem on private property and in the parks too.

City Public Works crews already pick up excrement on public property, such as in parks, but that became problematic – along with the idea of private property – due to issues with worker safety as COVID-19 can be passed along through excrement if not properly handled.

The pilot program is a result of the City’s Mass/Cass 2.0 plan, which has quality of life issues for residents and businesses as one of its main focuses, the City said. The Mass/Cass Task Force, a 25-member group composed of community leaders, non-profit partners, institutions, residents, business owners and elected officials, is also increasing the frequency of their meetings to address issues including defecation, encampments, and decentralization of services. 

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