Attorney General Maura Healey visited the South End last week on the heels of an historic, $500 million opioid manufacturer settlement, to check in with the kids at St. Stephens Youth Programs (SSYP) and call for more action at Mass/Cass.
Healey’s visit came just after she had announced a $26 billion resolution to a lawsuit levied by 14 states, including Massachusetts, against four manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The suit was meant to “hold accountable several corporations that flooded Massachusetts with dangerous opioids and bring desperately needed relief to people who are struggling with substance use disorder.”
The suit promises more than $500 million in funding to come to Massachusetts for recovery efforts and prevention over 10 years.
In the South End, she said it’s time for better leadership from the state and the City on Mass/Cass, and she hoped that the settlement will be directed to those suffering in the area.
“We were a few steps away from Mass and Cass and it’s really distressing what’s going on there,” said Healey. “We need urgent action over in that area. We need leadership from the City and the state – convening public safety officials with public health officials and with people on the ground. I give credit to people on the ground over there trying to do what they can to help, but we need to do a better job. I think we need leadership big time on the issue from the City and the state, and it would start with bringing all those people together; public safety with public health. What’s the game plan? What’s the approach? Because you cannot let this continue.”
She said the proceeds from the suit should be directed at correcting the problems seen on Mass/Cass.
“Every single penny I want to see go to treatment and recovery and the need could not be greater,” she said.
Before speaking to reporters, AG Healey stopped by SSYP to visit with the kids in the annual summer program there. She listened to their concerns, she said, and then the former Harvard University basketball standout played some hoops with them in Ramsey Park.
“The kids talk about finding needles in the playground, even where we were playing basketball today (in Ramsey Park),” she said. “They talked about trash and litter and a range of issues. I told them to keep speaking up. The power I believe is with our young people. We in government need to do a better job listening…We need to listen to our young people and what they’re telling us.”