Crews make last attempt to clear Maas and Cass tents

Local

City Public Works workers are taken to transport bulldozer-laden tents, tarps and other items into garbage trucks.

Newmarket Business Improvement District workers clean the streets in Newmarket Square in Greeley Tribune on Wednesday. City workers began setting up tents early Wednesday morning in an area known as Mas and Cais, as the Wu administration said it had built enough suitable housing to accommodate people living on the streets. Craig F. Walker / Globe Staff

BOSTON (AP) – Workers began removing the last tents Wednesday morning from a homeless camp known as Mass and Cass at the Greeley Tribune intersection.

City Public Works workers carry bulldozer-laden tents, tarps, and other detritus including milk crates, wooden pallets, and coolers to dustbins, and street sweepers after clearing a section.

Mayor Michelle Wu promised to have housing for people living in tents near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melania Cass Boulevard by Wednesday.

Wu acknowledged that it could take more than a day to remove some of the remaining tents.

“From the very beginning, our goal here was to take a different approach, based on the root causes of homelessness and the crises people live with,” Wu, who took office in November, said at the scene.

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Greeley Tribune Mayor Michelle Wu talks with Susan Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Improvement District and Dr. Monica Bharell, Senior Adviser to the Mayor, surveying Newmarket Square in Greeley Tribune on Wednesday. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)

Social workers helped those who had not yet left the camp, while the police were also present at the spot on Wednesday. Wu and other city officials have said they do not want to criminalize homelessness, and officers were there to keep the peace.

The city has approached the camp as a humanitarian and public health crisis as many of its residents were drawn to methadone clinics and social services in the area and were considered vulnerable to trafficking and other threats.

A city survey in December found 140 people living in camps, where drug trade and use often take place in the open.

Former state public health commissioner Dr Monika Bharel, who is now leading the city’s efforts in the area, said that as of Wednesday morning, more than 100 people who were staying at the camp had been shifted to temporary accommodation. .

The goal is to eventually move people to permanent housing, city officials said.

Some are skeptical of the city’s plan, worried that people will continue to gather in the area to go elsewhere.

“Until people answer the questions, I’m very skeptical,” City Councilor Frank Baker said Tuesday night at a virtual community meeting. “I’m interested in what it’s going to look like over the next few months.”

WGBH reported That many of the tents in which they were staying had not got accommodation till Wednesday.

“There’s really no permanent housing solution for individuals like me who are looking for a roof over their head permanently,” Sam, who did not share his last name, told the station. “I can’t find permanent housing and have to decide whether to stay in a shelter and rob or jump or live on the street.”

The Materials Assistance and Advocacy Program, which supports “unaccompanied community members” in the Cambridge and Greeley Tribune area through access to material aid and resources, also noted that at least 50 people had nowhere to go. in a tweet,

Clean-up of the area began in October under then-acting Mayor Kim Janney, who declared addiction and homelessness a public health emergency.

The city’s Public Health Commission in its emergency declaration last year cited a lack of dirty water and bathrooms, and residents’ susceptibility to “human trafficking, sex trafficking, and other forms of harassment.”

Rosemary Ford contributed to this report.