BOSTON (CBS) – He pulled his busload full of donations into the middle of the tent city known as Mass and Cass Thursday. It’s the heart of Boston’s opioid crisis.
“My name is Peter Kelleher,” he said. “I lost a son to the streets four years ago.” His son was Travis. It’s in his memory his father runs an organization called Support the Soupman.
“This is a man of God right here,” said one of the homeless men in line behind the truck. “You know he’s got a good heart.” Kelleher told him, “I lost my son to the streets. It’s why I do what I do.”
Another homeless man explained he has no possessions.
“Right now, nothing. I got a tent that I sleep in down there.” Kelleher and his team handed out brown bag lunches, clothing, and backpacks full of supplies. “Toothbrush, deodorant, hand warmers,” said a man going through his pack.
This week, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey declared addiction and homelessness a public health emergency at Mass and Cass. There was sickness, despair, open drug use in the backdrop, as Kelleher focused only on telling people he cares. “There’s hope, there is someone out there that wants to help, and show the love,” he said.
There’s a sense of heightened anxiety among the homeless at Mass and Cass since the city announced plans to dismantle the tents.
People are wondering when it will happen, and how. “I just hope they’ll be able to put us somewhere besides just take these tents, and just kick us out. I’ve been looking, trying to get housing for the longest now. It seems like I can’t get anywhere with it.”
“It’s a mess. I believe everybody should be out of the tents, off the street, but I believe there’s a different way to do it,” said Kelleher.
He has tried to bring in his portable shower units, one of them financed by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He says Boston officials turned them away. A city spokesperson denies that.
If you’d like to donate to help Support the Soupman, click here.