Plan to house homeless from Methadone Mile at Revere’s Quality Inn leads to backlash

REVERE, Mass. — Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo did not mince words in a scathing letter to the director of Boston’s Public Health Commission.

The letter, which was obtained by Boston 25 News Tuesday, Arrigo expresses “immense frustration” at rumors of BPHC’s plans to turn Revere’s Quality Inn on Morris Street into a homeless shelter.

“Specifically, I am disappointed in the Boston Public Health Commission’s operations, communications, and accountability measures – or lack thereof – as they concern its “regional” plan to address the disaster on Melnea Cass Boulevard.”

Arrigo states in the letter that Revere wasn’t made aware of the BPHC plan until receiving a voice message on August 30 from a recovery coach of Eliot Community Human Services, and attempts to get more information from BPHC have failed.

“Consider the impact of an emergency at the Quality Inn without the full preparedness of Revere’s first responders. Not only would the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors be at stake, but also the viability of the much larger reform movement,” Arrigo wrote.

Arrigo’s letter was addressed to Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, MD MPH of the Boston Public Health Commission.

“This a humanitarian crisis in the City of Boston, there need to be solutions. Those solutions can’t be on the back of the City of Revere. [We’re] willing to work together and collaborate – we’ve done it before, we’ve done it before. We have done a really good job of it, especially at the Quality Inn hotel, using that as a COVID hotel, we know how to do this. […] But what’s being proposed is not a collaborative, regional plan – it’s literally having this problem dumped, a political problem in Boston dumped in the City of Revere,” Mayor Arrigo said.

We reached out to acting Mayor Kim Janey. A spokesperson told us:

“Mayor Janey is committed to a regional approach to solve the regional challenges of the opioid crisis. The City of Boston must not shoulder this burden alone. Mayor Janey invites Mayor Arrrigo, and other mayors, to join her in efforts to address the needs of those suffering from mental health challenges and substance use disorder in Boston, Revere and across our Commonwealth. One such opportunity is a pilot effort in Revere that will provide transitional housing and wrap around services, helping some of our most vulnerable neighbors find stability, treatment and recovery.”

Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu said partners are greatly needed to tackle the immense challenges on Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston, otherwise known as Methadone Mile.

“I think intentions were there to ensure the communication was strong, but we need to do better. And my priority will be making sure we build a regional partnership that is grounded in that sense of transparent communication,” Councilwoman Wu said.

Being part of the solution and conversations around them is something mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George said she wants to be a part of.

“I would like to be involved in those conversations. I’m hopeful, especially as we are preparing for a period of transition, to be more engaged. But with the discussions and the planning - because there are hundreds of individuals who are struggling, people who are struggling at Mass & Cass - we have so much work to do that we need to be doing a partnership to get them the help that they need and the treatment that they need,” Councilwoman Essaibi George said.

Boston 25 News emailed BPHC, the city of Revere, and Governor Charlie Baker and is awaiting a response.

The Quality Inn at 100 Morris Street was previously used in April of 2020 as a quarantine site for Revere and Chelsea residents who tested positive for COVID-19 who did not require hospitalization.

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