Boston declares addiction, homelessness public health crises

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Boston officials declared addiction and homelessness to be public health crises at an Oct. 19 press conference, The Boston Globe reported

The announcement came as officials suggested a sprawling encampment is set to be removed to encourage individuals to seek shelter and help. 

"We cannot let our most vulnerable residents continue to suffer in these encampments," Acting Mayor Alice Janey said at the news conference.

Ms. Janey added the city will establish a new command structure to promote street intervention. New protocols will prohibit Boston employees from removing a homeless person from their encampment on public property unless there is shelter available for the individual.

Officials said they will first try to get those people currently involved in the court system into treatment programs, and petition for involuntary hospitalizations or civil commitments only as a last resort. If all steps are exhausted, individuals may be subject to arrest under disorderly conduct. 

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