While the original request for proposal, RFP, was for 75-100
housing first supportive housing units, DCAMM announced the
provisional designation to BMC for the development of a compus for
more than 851 people either actively using or recovering from
substance use disorder here which includes in their proposal:
- 405 housing first supportive housing units
- 120 low-threshold emergency beds
- 326 treatment beds
- 450 daily out-patient treatment capacity
- 5,200 yearly in-patient treatment capacity
One main talking point from the proposers is that there have always been services on the Shattuck Campus. While
partially true, what is being proposed is a dramatic shift and increase in beds which have led to recent opioid use in the park. See below.
Before the Shattuck Redevelopment vision plan, which called for 75-100, there were none. Since the vision plan, 54 were added on the campus and another 141 were approved nearby on Washington St.
With BMC's new proposal, this will be bumped to 698. We are told there will be no issues because there were no issues when we had no beds of this type, meanwhile we are seeing issues with the current 54 and this will be increased to 698.
|Tightly overseen beds
|Mix of active and inactive opioid use beds without sobriety nor treatment requirements while having unsupervised access to the park
|Behavioral Health Respite
||Unclear what these are. Beds for those not ready for treatment.
||Pine St Inn on Washington St
- SOAP: Structured Outpatient Addiction Program
- ATS: Acute Treatment Services
- TSS(CSS): Transitional Support Services
- RRS: Residential Rehabiliation Services
- PSH: Permanent Supportive Housing
BMC's FOIAed proposal can be seen here
Definitions and phrases
- Housing first: Housing without any barriers, such as
treatment and sobriety. Accepting of those with active substance
- Low-threshold housing: Same as housing first, though
there may be some nuanced difference.
- Supportive housing: Housing with supportive services.
This is coming to mean housing first but not necessarily universal.
In Boston, this is becoming housing first for the chronically
homeless. The Shattuck Plan and Pine St Inn plan on Washington St.
is following the housing first model. Other comparative places
elsewhere may not, so be careful of comparisons as it may be apples
to oranges if the other facility triages out active substance use
disorder. There is supportive housing for the elderly, handicapped
etc., BMC's proposal is not this but with a focus on substance use
disorder and the mentally ill. This is not part of an affordable
housing initiative as is often misunderstood.
- Chronically homeless: Unhoused for a year and suffering
from a major disability. This could be severe mental illness and/or
active substance use disorder.
- Substance use disorder: Use this instead of addicted,
addicts etc. For instance, someone suffering from substance use
- Using opioids: Use this instead of shooting up
- Unhoused: Use this instead of homeless.
Community counter talking points
Although the proposal is noble in intentions, there may be
unintended consequences. Similar noble intentions led to the area
of Mass and Cass. Below are the main issues heard from the
1. Too big and too concentrated to work. Our park
cannot effectively handle 54, let alone 850+.
- We currently have 54 low threshold beds, this plan is doubling
this to 120, adding 405 housing first units and 326 treatment beds.
This is creating services for at least 850 people.
- Drug dealers, rampant opioid use, and discarded needles is an
issue with 54, recovery cannot happen when drastically increasing
the density. Impact of 54 documented here.
- This plan also has an out-patient daily capacity of 450 and an
in-patient yearly capacity of 5,200, further increasing the density
and making it unmanageable.
- It is unethical to colocate such a dense population of active
users with those that may want to recover.
- The issues in the park are now starting to bleed out on
neighborhood streets. Seeing more needles, dealers, and people
- We are not advocating to get rid of the low-threshold and
supportive housing we already have, just to not increase this and
make it an unmanageable size. Smaller sites need to be spread
2. Long island is a better site for this with
limited to no access by drug dealers.
- A park surrounded by communities and lacking in access to food
is the wrong place for concentrating substance use services.
3. Decentralization works; this plan is more
centralized than anything in North America with easy access to drug
- We already have the highest concentration of low-threshold and
supportive housing in all of Massachusetts. We are doing more than
our share. It is time for this to be decentralized into other
- The largest supportive housing facility focusing on substance
use is almost finished being built nearby on Washinton St. at 141
units. This is too close and too soon to create the next new
largest facility in North America.
- As shown in the Mass and Cass region, concentration of services
does not work for those trying to recover and those who live
- Mental hospitals have been sold to developers throughout the
state which could have been used for this purpose, yet DCAMM and
BMC are looking to place all services within Boston. This will not
work for anyone.
4. The community did not ask for this.
- Marylou Sudders, living in Cambridge and working for the
executive office of health and human services, got approval from
DCAMM for 75-100 supportive housing units in early 2018. Link. This was long before engaging with the
community to find out what we want. Now the State is pushing
forward a campus for 850+.
- This is in a location needed by children for school. Students
need to walk through this area to get to the Brooke Charter School
K-7, Match Charter School 6-8, or English High School, all of which
abut this area and have very high diversity. Elementary school
children are picked up at the Williams St entrance, where there has
been regular opioid activity and needles with the current
- There has been no outreach by BMC to see what works for the
community, while they have had continual outreach to those
suffering from substance use disorder and those serving this
- A large portion of those coming through the services are not
from the city of Boston while most municipalities don't have a
contingency plan for their residents suffering from substance use
- This is large enough to service BMC's full eastern
Massachusetts footprint, and likely further. Well beyond the need
of our local communities.
- There have been no plans nor assessments of managing the area
outside of the Shattuck Campus for the impacts of increased opioid
use within our community.
- There are no contingency plans if this destroys the health of
our nearby communities.
- With the 54 in the park, we see a large impact of needles,
opioid use, dealers, and encampments without effective management
strategies. This is documented within the "Franklin Park: Current"
- We just want a safe place for our children to play.
- We just want a safe place for our dogs to play.
- For decades within Jamaica Plain, Parkside has been trying to
mitigate the effects of Pondside and Moss Hill pushing for human
services within Parkside while fighting against zoning variances in
their own neighborhoods. A ring of poverty has been established
around the park because of these efforts. This proposal will only
make it worse.
5. No one has experience handling a campus this
large focused on substance use disorder and mitigating the impact
it may have on the community.
- The forefront experts in this field from Vancouver stop at a
density of 100 housing first units for those with substance use
disorder. This is magnitudes larger. This proposal is at 405, while
co-locating another 130 low threshold beds, and a rotating 326
additional people struggling with substance use disorder. No one
here has experience with something this large.
- Pine St Inn's largest management so far is 55, this is
drastically larger without gaining the experience to effectively
manage and create recovery for something this dense.
- Housing first is effective for housing but not treatment for
those with substance use disorder. It is unethical to warehouse
this type of housing. It needs to be spread through the state at
low densities. (research below)
- Pine St Inn has a building with 141 going in nearby. They need
to gain experience with this density first along with managing the
impact on the community.
6. This proposal is further concentrating services
in communities of color.
- Franklin Park is mostly used by people of color and this
proposal is going where Juneteenth is celebrated.
- There are four schools very close to the campus with student
bodies which are greater than 95% POC; Brooke Mattapan Middle
School, Brooke High School, Match Charter Middle School, English
- The household median income in surrounding communities is very
low; the south-east side is at $20,000, north-east is at $25,000,
and the east side at $40,000. Source link.
- While DPH controls the land at the Shttuck Campus, they have
also controlled land abutting Arnold Arboretum for decades, which
is being used for a community garden.
Write to elected officials.
- Generate and send an email. Add your name and address. Click
the button, edit as you see fit, and send the email.
- Alternatively, go to the following site to find your
legislators and email them: FindMyLegislator
Peer reviewed research
Beware of circulated PDFs and cherrypicked research which may
misrepresent the truth or be out of date. Below is an aggregate of
a lot of the top recent peer reviewed literature which comes to a
scientific consensus. Cited times included to indicate possible
relevance in the field.
- Focus on housing first leads to higher housing retention but
worse outcomes for treatment. A survey of a lot of literature.
(2020, cited 33 times, link)
- Housing first leads to less reduction of drug use and
significantly less treatment when compared to treatment first.
(2004, cited 1732 times, link1; 2017, cited 49 times, link2)
- Although uptake of services were higher with wraparound housing
first, outcomes were not better. (2011, cited 84 times, link)
- Harm reduction efforts leads to more receipt of referrals but
not more engagement of referred services. Harm reduction leads to
less disease, but not more treatment engagement. (2022, cited 3
- While housing first increased social integration, this did not
have positive effects on drug use and mental health. Previous
research is mixed on there being increased social integration
according to this author. (2020, cited 12 times, link)
- "There is no substantial published evidence as yet to
demonstrate that PSH [permanent supportive housing] improves health
outcomes or reduces healthcare costs." (2018, cited 165 times,
- An overview of public policy and housing first initiatives.
Reviews and comes to similar conclusions, of which there is a lack
of evidence for positive outcomes other than more retention of
housing with housing first initiatives. (2020, cited 21 times,
- The major North American study. Same conclusions. Increased
housing with housing first, but no change in drug use nor health
outcomes. (2019, cited 243 times, link)
- The major Canadian study, Chez soi. Similar conclusions but
this paper focuses on mental health and not substance use. It does
include scattered site information. (2015, cited 296 times,
- A Medicaid-funded scattered-site PSH program for chronically
unsheltered individuals in Boston found high mortality, low housing
stability, and poor long-term housing outcomes. (2021, cited 8
- When looking at crime and property value "The findings suggest
that developers paying close attention to facility scale and siting
can avoid negative neighborhood impacts and render their supportive
housing invisible to neighbors" and "set of 7 large facilities,
each housing 53 or more residents...total crime reports...increased
by 30%...violent crime report was 40%". (2002, cited 72 times,
- This PDF is being circulated which claims no impact on crime
but cites the above article as its basis, which actually says the
opposite. PDF. Beware of circulated PDFs, this is not
uncommon if you follow the citations.
- The above citation is not added because it is a good source. It
is not. It is added to show the contradiction between the
circulated PDF and the source it cites. To add, this research is
focusing on supportive housing between 1992-1995. Before housing
first and the opioid epidemic, making it a poor source to
- With more recent and relevant research, on an indivual basis,
crime reduces by 30% by entering supportive housing. (2021, unknown
citation amount not peer reviewed, link)
- If placed in the community the individual is from, this may
- If placed in another community, this increases crime in the
destination community as this population is associated with a
higher crime rate. This includes larceny and stolen property.
- BMC's proposal is looking to possibly move those needing
supportive housing from eastern Massachusetts and beyond to
- This study also focuses on scattered site supportive housing,
wheras the BMC proposal is the most concentrated in North
- 'This is insane': Neighbors worried about proposal to redevelop
Shattuck Hospital's campus. WCVB 5 ABC August 2023 link.
- BMC's redevelopment of the Shattuck detailed. Dave Henderson
from BMC, "There's nothing like this anywhere. It is the largest
centralized plan anywhere." Only one person speaks in support.
Boston Bulletin August 2023 link.
- Stonybrook Neighborhood Association Dishes on Shattuck
Redevelopment. Jamaica Plain Gazette July 2023 link.
- Jim Greene: "We know that people migrate into Boston," he said.
"There's a lack of an adequate safety net in many other communities
across the commonwealth, and, in fact, throughout the Northeast."
WBUR July 2023 link.
- Commentary: State leaders have a chance to speak for the trees
at Shattuck site in Franklin Park. Dorchester Reporter July 2023
- Once hailed for decriminalizing drugs, Portugal is now having
doubts. Washington Post July 2023 link.
- Earthshaking: Supportive housing plan at Shattuck raises
concerns. Boston Globe July 2023 link.
- Shattuck proposal sparks community backlash. Will Franklin Park
be the next Mass and Cass? Bay State Banner June 2023 link.
- Development plan at Shattuck hospital leaves residents
concerned. WGBH October 2022 link.
- Mayor Wu calls on state to create 1,000 new units of
low-threshold housing outside city to address crisis at Mass. and
Cass. "We need the state as a partner." Boston.com October 2022
- The mayor said "hundreds more" have arrived from other
communities and states. "We simply cannot sustain a model that we
know works of providing housing to be that stepping off point and
stabilization point for services, to house the entire New England
region" she said. "And so we are looking for that partnership from
- The only way for the crisis to be truly addressed in the long
term is through a partnership with the state where other
communities also step up and expand services locally.
- Wu makes plea for state help on Mass and Cass. Bay State Banner
October 2022 link.
- Nonprofits plan for 400 units, addiction services at Shattuck.
Neighborhood residents report increased drug use in Franklin Park.
Bay State Banner September 2022 link.
- Neighbors take Franklin Park action. Illegal activity purported
by some making the area unsafe. Boston Bulletin September 2022
- Temporary low-threshold cottages placed within the Shattuck
Campus for 6 months. Boston Globe December 2021 link.
- Final Shattuck planning meeting frustrating for many. Public
meetings purposefully avoided any question and answer sessions.
Boston Bulletin July 2019 link.
- Shattuck Hospital to relocate raising neighborhood concerns.
Marylou Sudders gets approval for 75-100 supportive housing on the
Shattuck site in 2017 from DCAMM, long before any public input or
process. Boston Bulletin April 2018 link.
Alternatives for the space
Allow those abutting the park decide what they want for the
space through a true community process; this is in contrast to the
current outcome which was predetermined by the
Executive office of Health and Human Services, the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness, and DCAMM from the State.
- The original plan of 75-100 supportive housing.
- Affordable housing.
- Return to the park.
- Community center.
- Housing for those in recovery to separate people in recovery
from those actively using.
- A campus for 850+ opioid users from across New England, both in
recovery and actively using.
Possible alternative sites for smaller services
spread throughout Massachusetts
Below is a partial list of possible sites, which mostly
includes abandoned state hospitals. This is still a work in
progress. For reference, BMC's extremely large and dense proposal
is projected to use 7 acres in Franklin Park.
- Gaebler Children's Center - demolished; 55 acres of land.
- Grafton State Hospital - demolished, 700 acres of land.
- Medfield State Hospital - standing, 87.3 acres of land.
- Northampton State Hospital - demolished, 4.9 acres of land.
- Rutland Heights State Hospital - demolished, 44.3 acres of
land. Map link.
- Taunton State Hospital - hospital demolished, 157.2 acres of
land. Map link.
- Lovering Colony State Hospital - demolished, 1.3 acres.
- Simeon E. Borden (Raynham Farm) Colony State Hospital -
demolished, 42 acres of land owned by the town now. Map link.
- Belchertown State School - partially demolished, 845 acres of
land. Map link.
- JT Berry State School - demolished, 5 acres still owned by the
town of North Reading. Map link.
- Monson Developmental Center - defunct, 679 acres still owned by
the State. Map link.
- Templeton Developmental Center - mostly defunct and unused,
2600 acres of land owned by the State. Map link.
- Wrentham State School - partially disused, 700 acres of land.
- Lakeville State Hospital - unused, 36.67 acres of land.
- Worcester County Sanitarium - demolished, 120 acres of land.
- Cranberry Specialty Hospital - demolished in 2017, 23 acres of
land. Map link.
- Westwood Lodge Hospital - closed, 15 acres. May have been sold
for condo development in 2020. Map link.
- In 2022, Boston did a land audit. 106 parcels throughout the
city are underutilized with no planned project, coming to 38 acres.
Map of site locations below
Sites recently sold for other purposes
- Boston State Hospital - Sold by DCAMM for housing.
- Gardner State Hospital - Sold by DCAMM for a prison.
- Pondville State Hospital - Sold to Norwood Hospital.
- Worcester State Hospital - 30+ acres sold by DCAMM for
biomedical research campus.
- Walter E. Fernald Developmental Center - 186 acres sold by
DCAMM to the city of Waltham in 2014 for a park.
- Middlesex County Sanitarium - Sold by DCAMM for a condo
Still needs to be checked
- Paul A. Dever State School - demolished
- Attleboro Sanitarium - demolished
- Berkshire Hills Sanitarium
- Middleton Sanitarium
News of alternative sites for smaller services
spread throughout Massachusetts
- Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Funding for 450 New
Affordable Housing Units Across Massachusetts. Link.
- Of these 450 new affordable housing units, a large portion is
for the elderly and handicapped and not those suffering from opioid
- The full Massachusetts plan seems to only include 129
supportive housing units for those with opioid use disorder across
the full State. The highest density is 36. This total is less than
1/4th of the plan within a few acres of Franklin Park. This is not
including the low-threshold units added to Franklin Park.
- 60 Wells Street with 36 studios.
- First Street Apartments with 9 studios.
- West Housatonic Apartments with 28 studios, not all for the
- 775 Worthington Street with 36 studios.
- 237 Chandler Street with 20 studios.
- $62 million set aside for this initiative, of which only a
fraction goes to supportive housing for those with opioid use
disorder. The State is planning on giving BMC $200+ million for
concentrating services in Franklin Park.
Large PSH elsewhere
Work in progress
- Vancouver Canada seems to be the leader in PSH for substance
use disorder. The largest PSH building by the leader in the city,
Portland Housing Society, is at 100. Link.
- San Francisco just opened their largest PSH at 256 beds at 1064
Mission St. 103 units are for the elderly and it is not mentioned
anywhere that they are accepting those with substance use disorder,
so this may not be similar housing to BMC's proposal. Link.
- New York claims the largest PSH at the Breaking Ground Times
Square residence, link, but there is a lot of news on how New York is
not following the housing first approach link1
and link2. Breaking ground also does not indicate
any acceptance of active opioid use.
- Denver Colorado has a lot of PSH following the housing first
model. The scale seems smaller than Boston though. I cannot find
their largest. Link.
- Portland Oregon with Blackburn seems to have the highest
density at 80 housing first PSH according to the Shattuck Vision
plan. There seems to be serious issues with crime and opioid use