“Mass. and Cass is not just a Boston problem” Letter to the Editor from Julie Burns, President & CEO of RIZE Massachusetts

December 9, 2022

By Julie Burns
The Boston Globe

In Danny McDonald’s report on the progress that has been made regarding the convergence of homelessness, substance use disorder, and mental health challenges near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, the key word is “partner” (“The puzzle of Mass. and Cass,” Page A1, Nov. 23).

Potential solutions to the crisis can be debated ad infinitum, with disagreement persisting as the pendulum swings from a strong law-and-order approach to a public health-oriented response to people struggling out on the streets. While the epicenter of this crisis is in the city, this is not just a Boston problem but a regional one. In fact, the opioid epidemic has reached all corners of the Commonwealth.

Leaders at the local, state, and federal levels must work as partners with a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility. Every branch of government has something to contribute, as do the private sector, philanthropy, and the people who live and work in the area — including those on the front line and those who use drugs.

There is light at the end of the tunnel for this community in the same way that people with substance use disorder do find their way into recovery and a new life. Change is possible, and we must not let up in our commitment to making it.

Julie Burns

President and CEO

RIZE Massachusetts Foundation