Mayor Michelle Wu, just weeks into her mayoralty, has cleaned up Mass. and Cass (“Plan in place, tents come down,” Page A1, Jan. 13). In so doing, she has exceeded the expectations of longtime observers of city government and belied the notion that many human services issues, such as substance use disorder and homelessness, are intractable.
Wu deserves enormous credit for staking out a compassionate, positive, proactive position, rejecting a punitive approach and embracing a public health-focused model. She has shown government at its best.
In full disclosure, I have urged Wu staffers and others to accept that some people — who are homeless, have mental illness or substance use disorder, or are suicidal — need to be involuntarily committed. I stand by that position; however, the Wu administration has demonstrated that a great deal can be accomplished by engaging with people personally, treating every individual with respect, and spending resources and political capital on humane housing options, before government resorts to involuntary commitments.
The area at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard is clear of tents and encampments, and the overwhelming majority of former sidewalk dwellers are in safe housing with appropriate services. This is a good thing by any measure and, in political terms, a triumph over the cynics.
John J. Corrigan, Jr.
The writer, a former Norfolk County prosecutor, is a lawyer who has handled cases involving involuntary commitments.