Residents blindsided by City plan to move homeless to Mission Hill

On Dec. 22, the City held a public meeting to discuss its plan to shelter homeless individuals at the enVision Hotel at 81 S. Huntington Ave. Around 70 people attended.

The meeting was presented by the Boston Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS). Sarah Porter spoke on behalf of Victory Programs, an organization dedicated to decreasing homelessness.

Porter explained that her program had rented the enVision Hotel in late summer to provide transitional housing to 41 homeless individuals. They now plan to do the same for people from the homeless encampment known as Mass and Cass, the area where Massachusetts Ave. intersects with Melnea Cass Blvd. A similar model tried in NYC was successful.

Victory staff members would manage the site 24 hours a day, including on weekends. Hotel staff would provide maintenance, housekeeping and meals. No loitering would be allowed in front of the building. The current arrangement with enVision is for one year, or until permanent housing solutions are found.

Porter claimed that Victory Programs had informed neighbors about the program. However, tenants in multiple adjacent complexes said this meeting was the first they’d heard of the project. The Community Alliance of Mission Hill also said it wasn’t consulted and had learned about the proposal on the news. The general consensus was that there had been a serious lack in communication with the host community.

Mission Hill residents expressed mixed emotions about the relocation project. Some embraced the opportunity to help those in need and wanted to welcome these “new neighbors.” Others worried about the degree of immersion of individuals who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues. Residents were universally surprised by Victory’s decision to allow unvaccinated people to qualify for enVision housing.

The overwhelming amount of concerns and questions posed by residents prompted Victory Programs to offer to host a second meeting. It also pledged to expand its engagement efforts with the Mission Hill community. In the meantime, questions and concerns can be sent to [email protected].

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