Media Release: March Of The Homeless
Homeless March to Demand State Action on Homelessness, Opioid Addiction Crises
Who: The homeless, the formerly homeless, and their supporters.
What: March and Rally to Demand State “Intervention” to Reopen Long Island to End Opioid Addiction Crisis and Provide “Housing First” for the Homeless.
Where: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (Woods Mullins Shelter, corner of Mass Ave and Albany St.) and Boston Common by the State House.
When: Thursday, April 23, 10 AM at Albany St. and Mass Ave., Noon at the State House (approximate).
Background: Six months after the City of Boston’s abrupt termination of 260 people in 11 addiction recovery programs on Long Island in Boston Harbor, 9 programs serving 185 people remain closed, including more than half the detox beds in Greater Boston. More than 2,000 people have been denied detox since October—doubtless a factor in the state’s spike in opioid deaths. While some new beds have opened at Southampton Street for 450 homeless people also kicked off of Long Island, hundreds still remain on cots and floor mats at shelters across the City in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.
In response, scores of homeless activists will march to the State House to demand immediate action by Governor Baker. Organized by the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee (BHSC), marchers will leave the Woods Mullins Shelter at Mass Ave. and Albany St. and march down Washington St. to the State House. To highlight their plight marchers will make symbolic stops at homeless organizations en route.
“The state’s homelessness crisis has gone on for too long, and the closing of the Long Island facilities last year made it worse,” according to homeless BHSC member Cleve Rea. “Beacon Hill must recognize the crisis for what it is, an emergency! The state must create and fund an effective plan to end homelessness now!”
“We understand that there is a state budget deficit,” said Jesse Maxwell, a homeless BHSC member who shelters in Cambridge, “but providing housing is more cost effective than warehousing us in filthy shelters and fleabag motels. And it better ensures that the most vulnerable who are homeless–the elderly, the mentally ill, the handicapped and the sick–get the services, dignity, and respect they deserve.”
Marchers also demanded that the state follow through on its promise to end the opioid drug overdose crisis in Boston, as well as statewide. The BHSC will deliver a letter to state officials demanding they take the lead. “The City is addicted to a bad decision (the evacuation of Long Island) and needs an intervention by the State to solve this crisis,” the letter states. “There is no reason why the Long Island campus cannot be re-opened this summer <using a ferry> …to make this happen now.”
“People are overdosing and dying daily. This is an emergency situation!” according to BHSC homeless member and recovered drug user Aubri Esters. “Mayor Marty Walsh and his administration need an intervention by the state NOW to insure those Long Island addiction stabilization and recovery beds are replaced, even including reopening programs on Long Island itself if necessary. More beds must also be added throughout the state.”
“These programs saved my life,” she added, “get them up and running and they can save many others.”
INTERVIEW AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AT WOODS MULLINS, BOSTON COMMON.
The homeless and concerned community members formed the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee in response to the chaotic shutdown of Long Island. That shutdown threw 700 already homeless people into the streets of Boston with no planning or notice.