City of Boston unveils new plan to tackle 'Methadone Mile'

City of Boston unveils new plan to tackle 'Methadone Mile'

BOSTON — The City of Boston has unveiled its most recent plan to tackle the part of the city known as "Methadone Mile", acknowledging a 37% increase of violence in the area.

For the first time, the city has revealed a concrete plan, laying out a new list of changes to address the magnitude of challenges, at all hours, from all angles.

Located deep in the city's South End neighborhood, Methadone Mile is a stretch plagued by the effects of drug use, primarily heroin and now crystal meth. Methadone clinics sit nearby, clashing with what many describe as an open-air drug market.

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Residents, desperate for a solution, say their calls for help are now being met with clear answers in the city's immediate plan to move forward.

Marty Martinez, Chief of Health and Human Services, says a 24-person task force is being created, including business leaders, community leaders and health care providers who will meet monthly to update progress.

"There’s no one answer, it’s about constant ongoing concentrated effort and that’s what this plan does," said Martinez. "It’s meant to bring in multiple voices that care about the issue but it’s also meant to make sure we can be held accountable to what we’re working on."

Named the Mass and Cass Plan, the plan will focus on decreasing criminal activity and increasing pathways to care for drug addicts. The new plan will be dealing with the issues surrounding the neighborhood's current quality of life while strengthening communication, coordination and alignment of services.

The plan also calls on additional law enforcement being assigned to this specific area to address needs particular to the Methadone Mile.

"We’ve added a sergeant and three additional officers to work on diversion and training other officers not just on criminal activity but also as a recovery coach," said Martinez.

According to Martinez, the city will begin collecting and compiling data in one central place, a dashboard which will be posted to the city's website every month, allowing the public to stay up to date with the latest developments in the area.

"It includes the number of times we’re sweeping the neighborhoods for trash and debris and cleaning needles," said Martinez. "It includes the number of people getting into care and treatment and also includes crime statistics."

Martinez says that, while the community is right in pushing city officials to do something about this, they likely aren't seeing the average of about 80 people in the neighborhood who are admitted into treatment facilities every month.

The plan also addresses a goal of increasing that number and getting more needle exchange programs up and running at locations outside the South End.