BOSTON (CBS) – City officials are scrambling to make sure the homeless population in Boston is taken care of after a much needed shelter on Long Island was closed.
Mayor Marty Walsh shut down the bridge to the island Wednesday night due to safety concerns. “We’ve been testing it consistently,” Mayor Walsh said Thursday. “We were looking to replace some pieces, it’s just too much, too structurally deficient.”
The island is home to the Long Island Shelter, where more than 400 homeless people spend the night.
A woman who has been there for six months is worried about where she is going to go. “We’re not all drug addicts,” she says. “We’re not all out here doing criminal acts, some people really need these places for stepping stones, it’s going to be winter, what are we going to do, sleep outside?”
For now, everyone has been evacuated off the island. The mayor says the city is looking to find more beds.
“We are going to house homeless people in the city of Boston, we’ll be looking for locations to help,” Walsh said. “Thank God last night wasn’t a cold night, so I’m certainly concerned about that.”
The island also houses Camp Harborview, a summer camp for at-risk city kids. Ferry service may be able to keep the camp open but there’s no plan yet.
The more pressing need is the people who rely on city services like detox programs that are on the island, as well as the homeless population who rely on the shelter.
“Every place has their faults, but it was a roof over my head, a shower, food,” a homeless woman said. “I’ll sleep outside.”
City officials say there will be a bidding process for what could be an $80 million redesign of the bridge. The bridge leading to Long Island could be shut down for two and a half years.
MassDOT says it has committed to pay half of the costs of the design of the new bridge. Boston will be on the hook for the actual construction costs.
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