Local leaders respond to escalating concerns related to ‘Methadone Mile’

BOSTON — Local leaders are responding to concerns from residents in the South End and lower Roxbury about worsening problems in the area of so-called Methadone Mile.

Boston 25 News has been reporting on this issue for years from the perspectives of both those seeking treatment and those living in the neighborhood.

Some families in the area said it’s gotten so bad in recent months they feel they have no choice but leave the neighborhood.

The latest reporting focusing on their current experiences, which aired on Monday night, caught the attention of several elected officials.

“The problem has absolutely gotten worse. I don’t think anyone will say that it hasn’t,” said At-Large Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George. “We’ve got a number of influencing factors that have gotten us to this critical point.”

>> Previous: ‘It’s like a Third World country’: Neighbors fleeing Methadone Mile amid worsening problems

At-Large Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George told Boston 25 News that urgent conversations are still happening behind the scenes related to decentralization of services.

However, she said those efforts have been slowed down by the pandemic.

“Many other places that have provided resources historically to this vulnerable population don’t exist anymore. Their doors are closed,” explained Essaibi-George. “Programs and resources that an individual might access during any given day, they’ve shuttered their doors because of this pandemic.”

Essaibi-George said city leaders are well aware about a recent rise in reports regarding human feces.

She confirmed the current city policy about not cleaning up human waste found on people’s private properties, including front steps.

According to Essaibi-George, the city is currently discussing bringing in portable restrooms to help address the issue.

“It’s tied directly to the lack of accommodations available for individuals to use the restroom,” she added. “The particular issue of waste on private property is on our agenda.”

State Representative Jon Santiago, who also lives in the neighborhood, acknowledges that things have undeniably gotten worse for residents.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve had the brunt of this. It’s going to require an all hands on approach from neighborhoods across the city to communities across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Santiago, who’s also an emergency room physician at BMC.

Santiago said he hasn’t lost sight of the need for decentralization of services but expects that will require continued patience.

“My hope is in the coming year or two years we can make some real movement there,” said Santiago. “Once we have a shared sacrifice, we can begin to alleviate some of the problems here.”

For residents who have lived through the impact of the Long Island Bridge closure and an influx services added to Mass & Cass, skepticism remains.

“I’ve heard this now for going on three years. I think our only hope is if the politicians finally listen to us rather than give us BS,” said resident Greg Jackson.

Regardless of the outcome, 68-year-old Greg Jackson isn’t planning on going anywhere. Jackson said he’s lived through a lot of changes since purchasing his home on East Springfield Street in 1980 and is committed to sticking it out.

“I don’t feel like I should have to leave,” he said. “I’ve been here 40 years, and I don’t want to go.”

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