South End lawyers try to refute plans to house recovering addicts in a hotel in the heart of Methadone Mile, warning that the hotel in a ‘flophouse’ could be teeming with drug use.
“This is the worst possible place,” said Steve Fox of the South End Forum community group, adding that the residents “had universal opposition to this.”
Victory Programs, an addiction treatment organization, proposes to rent first 14 beds and then 35 beds from the Best Western at 891 Massachusetts Ave., a hotel known as the Roxbury Roundhouse, because of its cylindrical shape.
VP – a reputable organization that claims that the city and the state support this venture – will use these beds as ‘transitional accommodation’ and use the Roundhouse to lay a roof over the addict’s heads as they move towards sobriety.
But a big problem, lawyers say, is that it puts people struggling with drug abuse at the center of an active and violent outdoor drug market.
“You do not house a diabetic in a candy factory,” Fox said.
Furthermore, there is a fear that the number of people placed in the shutters of the hotel will increase until almost 200 rooms are already full – with little supervision.
“It’s a dangerous move there,” said City Councilman Frank Baker, who represents the area.
He said a lack of clarity about the number of people in the hotel ‘tells me they might want something behind’, and a full-fledged hotel acting as a shelter could result in a ‘flophouse’.
Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association also said it was a ‘big fear’, adding that everyone in the area agrees that more resources are needed for the area known as ‘Mass and Cass’ , but that it is not going to work. .
“I understand what the city is trying to do, but it’s really hard to go over if you’re in the same area as your dealer,” she said.
The Roundhouse closed during the pandemic, and no one picked up the phone on Wednesday. A City Hall spokesman said the administration did not buy or rent hotel rooms, but said there was no other information available about the city’s involvement.
Victory Programs said in a statement that people have a greater chance of addressing their health, addiction and other problems if people have a roof over their heads. “
The organization said these plans come “given the crisis in the Mass / Cass area and take advantage of our 45-year history of providing drug use, reducing harm and ‘housing first’ service models.”
According to an email sent to the Herald, VP is holding another meeting on Friday at 16:30 and says: ‘This conversation is not about alternative spaces’ because they are based at the Roundhouse.
State Representative Jon Santiago, whose area includes the area, said: “There was a lack of communication with the neighbors – not only with the proposal, but also with the future plans for Mass and Cass.”
He noted how the city has committed to not adding more services to Mass and Cass as advocates and officials want to decentralize the various methadone clinics, shelters and treatment facilities from the area. As for the concept in general: “The plan does not seem to go along with it,” he said.
City Councilman Ed Flynn, whose district is close by, also said it was in conflict with the agreement on decentralizing services.
He said: “It is not the answer to put someone in a hotel while he is still abusing drugs.”