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Low-threshold day spaces will open in Roxbury, Back Bay, part of Boston’s effort to address Mass. and Cass

“These steps move us closer to ensuring that every person impacted by substance use is connected to city services and has a path to a safe, stable recovery.”

Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe, File

Two new low-threshold day spaces will open in Boston, aimed at providing access to harm reduction services, food, water, and bathrooms to unsheltered individuals struggling with addiction or mental health issues in the city.

The move is part of the City of Boston’s ongoing efforts to address the scores of people drawn to the area of Mass. and Cass, which has emerged as the region’s epicenter of the addiction, homelessness, and mental health crises

When Mayor Michelle Wu announced a “warm weather plan” in May to handle the yearly anticipated increase in demand for services in the area during the summer months, opening two new day centers outside of the Mass. and Cass area was among the planned steps for summer 2022. 


In a statement Monday, Wu and the Boston Public Health Commission announced that the two day centers, which will maintain reduced barriers for entry, will be in Roxbury and Back Bay. The Roxbury location will be managed by Whittier Street Community Health Center at their Tremont street location, while the Back Bay center will be managed by Victory Programs Inc. at their Boston Living Center. 

Both low-threshold spaces will offer harm reduction services, medical treatment and referrals, and support groups and wellness activities, in addition to access to food, water, and bathrooms. Typically, “low-threshold” refers to placing minimal requirements on individuals seeking access to services, removing or reducing barriers such as a mandate of sobriety, for people to receive harm reduction care.

“These steps move us closer to ensuring that every person impacted by substance use is connected to city services and has a path to a safe, stable recovery,” Wu said in a statement. “These two new low-threshold daytime spaces will expand our comprehensive approach to supporting unsheltered individuals with substance use disorder and fill critical gaps in the continuum of care. I’m grateful to Whittier Street Community Health Center and Victory Programs for partnering with us to lower barriers and connect more residents with the care they need, where they are.”


In statements, the leaders of both Whittier Street and Victory Programs expressed excitement about partnering with the city for the day centers.

According to the city, the day centers and other efforts to make recovery and harm reduction services more available to residents throughout Boston neighborhoods are being supported by $6.9 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). In addition to the day centers, the funding is being used to create Neighborhood Engagement Teams, which the city said will engage individuals experiencing substance use and housing issues and refer them to services. The teams will be led by Torchlight Recovery Group in Nubian Square and East Boston Community Health Center

ARPA funding is also being used to support two low-threshold work programs: Addiction Recovery Resources, which, among other services, provides stipends to peers in return for collecting improperly discarded needles, and Newmarket Business Association, which offers a pay-per-day work program for employment, case management, and wellness referrals. The Phoenix, NamaStay Sober and Resources for Recovery are also receiving funding.


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