Boston Declares Homelessness A Public Health Crisis

Photo: Karyn Regal / WBZ

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) – Boston’s Public Health Department is officially declaring homelessness a public health emergency.

The announcement comes as Acting Mayor Kim Janey signed an Executive Order Tuesday establishing a coordinated response to the public health and encampments in the city.

The multi-departmental approach seeks to provide housing to those experiencing homelessness with a specific focus on those living in the area known as Mass and Cass.

“Boston has been a regional leader in supporting people who are gripped by substance use disorder and made even more vulnerable by mental illness and homelessness,” Janey said. “With this executive order, residents facing substance use disorder and unsheltered homelessness can have the shelter and treatment they need to help them be safe and get better.”

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The order means that tents will no longer be allowed on public property and that those experiencing homelessness will now be connected with services and shelter.

The City also said it will not criminalize homelessness and that tenants will not be removed until other options are available.

"If folks are looking for a magic moment where 'poof' everything is gone, that is not how addiction works," Janey said during a press conference Tuesday. "Tents are not appropriate for housing."

The order also explains that tents will not be removed immediately and that those living on the streets will be given a notice before they are.

As a last resort for individuals who present a likelihood of serious harm to themselves or others due to their mental illness or substance use disorder, the Police Department will petition for those individuals to be involuntarily committed to mental health facilities.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) has more:

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