Wu: No arrests have been made at Mass. and Cass under new encampment ordinance

Local News

“We have felt very good about what we’ve seen in the last several weeks.”

Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday that no arrests have been made under a new city ordinance that gives police the ability to clear tent encampments more quickly in the city since the legislation started being implemented earlier this month.

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The city began clearing the encampments around Mass. and Cass at the end of October in advance of enforcement of the ordinance, which was approved by Boston City Council and gives police the ability to clear temporary structures more quickly.

Wu said during an appearance on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” on Thursday said the city’s recent work around Mass. and Cass, including the ordinance, is part of a “multi-year” progression of moving people “along the spectrum” for housing and treatment in an effort to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the area, which has become the epicenter of the overlapping addiction, mental health, and homelessness crises in the region. 

“We have felt very good about what we’ve seen in the last several weeks,” Wu said. 

She said she felt confident that the city’s approach is one they will be able to sustain over the long run.

“We’re prepared for the winter and then we have plans going so we can be ready when spring and summer when the weather warms up again,” she said. 

The mayor said the ordinance builds on her administration’s previous efforts to connect people in the area to placement in housing and treatment through infrastructure that was set up in January 2022. What was lacking with that infrastructure, she said, was the ability to immediately respond to encampments as they popped up. 

The ordinance, she said, is one piece of making sure all the parts of the city’s response to the overlapping crises are on the same page. 

Since the ordinance went into effect, Wu said there have been no arrests under it “whatsoever.”

“There hasn’t been a need for this particular type of enforcement because most of the people who were living in tents and encampments were placed,” Wu said.

Tania Del Rio, the city’s Coordinated Response Team Director, said during the segment that of the 102 people who were placed into alternative situations when Atkinson Street was cleared, 73 were placed in a low threshold housing unit. Twenty people were sent to a shelter and others were reunited with friends or family members. 

Boston Medical Center officials have said that since the nearby encampment was cleared, they have seen an increase in the number of people seeking shelter on the hospital’s campus.

Watch the full interview below: