The crisis unfolding in Boston near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard may look like a crime problem to some, but I am glad that most of the city’s mayoral candidates understand it as fundamentally a public health, housing, and humanitarian emergency (“Mayoral rivals tangle over public safety,” Metro, May 27). It’s the tragic outcome of multiple system failures that affect mental health care, housing, and public health policy.
The calls for more outreach on the street are spot-on. Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team works on the ground at “Mass. and Cass,” and we can attest to what the research shows. While HIV infections, overdoses, and deaths are increasing, the toll that living on the street takes on people’s mental health and physical safety cannot be overlooked.
In our experience, people want to get well, and very few prefer to live on the street. Our fellow human beings who don’t have homes, who may use drugs, and who may suffer from mental illness are also constituents of every mayoral candidate. We need more on-the-ground outreach services immediately to save and improve the lives of Bostonians.