Mayor Marty Walsh promised to clean up the notorious drug haven last year, launching initiatives to break up the dealing and connect people to treatment. The slow pace of change has frustrated residents and business owners, who believe more dramatic steps need to be taken. Other big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago are dealing with their own drug centers.
On “Methadone Mile,” a stretch of Boston’s Massachusetts Avenue south of downtown where methadone clinics, sober homes and other drug treatment services have grown in the shadow of Boston Medical Center, an area meant for healing has instead become the city’s most visible symbol of the national opioid crisis, the Associated Press reports. Mayor Marty Walsh promised to clean up the notorious drug haven last year, launching initiatives to break up the dealing and connect people to treatment. The slow pace of change has frustrated residents and business owners, who believe more dramatic steps need to be taken.
“It’s just really sad,” said George Stergios of the local neighborhood association. “Most of us don’t want to live like this, surrounded by human misery.” Walsh believes “significant gains” are being made. “Recovery doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It’s about seeing this as the disease it is, and working hard to lift up everyone in the neighborhood so everyone’s quality of life improves.” Boston has company in dealing with drug-infested areas that have only worsened as cheaper heroin and more potent opioids like fentanyl have flooded in. In Los Angeles, a 50-bed “sobering center ” opened on Skid Row in January. This month, San Francisco will start connecting low-level drug offenders in its Tenderloin and Mission districts to housing, mental health counseling and other services instead of prosecuting them. Police on Chicago’s West Side launched a similar effort last year, and other cities have adopted the idea. In New York and Philadelphia, officials this year bulldozed longtime drug havens.