The “comfort station” in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, a stretch known as “Methadone Mile” in Boston, has closed permanently, Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s office said Tuesday.
The station, located in a fenced-off lot on Atkinson Street, was created to meet the basic needs of people who are homeless and battling drug addiction, such as portable toilets, hand-washing sinks, and outreach services.
The acting mayor’s office said the facility was closed July 29, citing “security concerns.” But violent crimes continue to be reported in the area. On Aug. 23, a 29-year-old man was stabbed to death near the former site of the comfort station, according to police.
In a statement, Janey said the city is “taking action to improve both public health and public safety in the neighborhood.”
“In just the past week, we referred 55 people into treatment,” she said. “This is life-saving work. We are also targeting exploitative and criminal behavior in the area. Over the past month, we have made more than 30 drug-related arrests. There is more work to be done for those who are suffering from substance use and mental health issues. We will continue to take a coordinated approach to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
Conditions in the area have deteriorated since 2014 when bridge access to Long Island and its multiple treatment centers was closed. The area, near the border of the South End and Roxbury, has since become the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis.
The question of how to make the area safer while providing support to people suffering in the streets has become a major issue in Boston’s mayoral race, where most major candidates have put forth a plan to clean up the area.
City councilor Andrea Campbell and Janey have called for a ferry service to treatment centers on Long Island. Councilor Michell Wu has said she would expand services and distribute them across the city. Councilor Annissa Essaibi George has called for devoting more resources to the Mass and Cass area.