Concern for Our Neighbors

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The following went out to our supporters on August 9, 2019:

If you’ve spent any time near Victory Programs’ administrative building at 965 Massachusetts Avenue, you’ve inevitably seen some of our neighbors. The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard offers a glimpse into the immense need many of our community members face while trying to manage the challenges of homelessness and addiction.
Anyone who passes through the Mass/Cass intersection on their way into our neighborhood inevitably asks “what is the answer? what should we do?”

To say that it is a complicated, slow, painstaking process feels cliché, but it is very true. This neighborhood is rich with low-threshold services, which is why it is an attractive place for people with nowhere else to go to congregate. There is daily outreach happening alongside an increasingly active police presence. Despite this, there are still large groups of people in a desperate situation with massive, ever-growing, needs.

Things that do or could help: more shelter options, diverse types of housing, harm reduction services, short-term navigation, medication-assisted treatment, safe consumption sites, and more. With individuals as vulnerable as our neighbors, we’ve learned that people have the best chance of success when they have immediate access to services at the exact moment they first consider seeking support. Access to the right service, at the right moment, can save a life and restore dignity and respect.

In addition to the front-page story about recent events in our neighborhood in today’s issue of Boston Globe, we encourage you to read the opinion section from the same paper which features an opinion piece penned by State Senators Cindy F. Friedman and Jeffery N. Roy on the hope represented by safe consumption sites, and another piece by Dr. Jon Santiago, a state representative, on the need for a comprehensive response to address the challenges vulnerable individuals face.

If you have been monitoring the situation and wondering what to do. Please consider contacting your legislators and/or writing a letter-to-the-editor in response to any of the news articles linked above.

The individuals congregating in this area are our neighbors. They are the people who come through our doors asking for services and support when they are ready to seek help. Victory Programs, despite the complicated and heartbreaking nature of the situation, continues to daily find ways to meeting individuals where they are with compassion, evidence-based care, and opportunity.

Sarah Porter, Intermin CEO
Victory Programs

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