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A safe solution is needed for the Mass & Cass colony

Melvin B. Miller

The airports and highways have been filled with people traveling to visit family and friends during the holiday. The Covid-19 epidemic has made people even more aware of the importance of others in their lives. Homelessness at this time seems like an insufferable condition. It is too easy for those seeking solutions for the homeless to fail to consider fully the social problems that travel with many of those with no job and no place to stay.

For several years, residents of Roxbury have been battling against a resurgence of crime and violence. According to a recent report in the Boston Globe, police data indicate that assault and battery, drug-dealing and six murders have occurred in the Mass and Cass vicinity. One would expect that this crime and violence would move with the people to wherever they are relocated.

The homeless people at Mass and Cass have come from all over the state. Most are not original residents of Roxbury. The problem of violence that already afflicts Roxbury is primarily the product of poverty. It is certainly of no benefit to those who want to make Roxbury better that they now must absorb those from elsewhere who are afflicted with drug addiction and other social problems as well as poverty.

The problem with finding shelter for the homeless is, the Mass and Cass colony brings a number of social problems with it, including drug addiction and mental illness, as well as poverty. Few people would welcome the addition of those problems to their neighborhood. Roxbury is seen as a safe dumping ground for society’s rejects because the so-called leaders often fail to protest policies that would send residents from other areas into the streets in violent opposition.

The mayor is unlikely to send the Mass and Cass crowd to Roslindale, but she could open the former Boston Public Schools headquarters on Court Street. At least the people being moved would then be away from children and families. An alternative is for the mayor to find a dock in Boston to establish one end of the ferry trip to Long Island. The goal has to be to provide a protective environment for the Mass and Cass colony, away from other Boston residents, while the health and economic issues of the homeless are being resolved.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins has proposed a partial solution. Other prominent Blacks, with few exceptions, have otherwise remained silent.