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City of Boston, Boston University and Project Place launch new partnership

December 13, 2016

Public Health Commission

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Public Health Commission

The goal is to provide employment to low-income and formerly homeless individuals, and to improve Lower Roxbury and the South End.

ROXBURY - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a new partnership with Boston University and Project Place as part of an ongoing effort to improve the neighborhoods around the Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue intersection through targeted investments in beautification, public safety and enhanced homeless and addiction recovery services. The neighborhood will be cleaned five days a week by Project Place, an area non-profit that provides employment opportunities for low income and homeless individuals. 

"While committing to better serve individuals battling addiction and homelessness, we're also beautifying their neighborhood and creating jobs," said Mayor Walsh. "It goes to show that when we all come together, we can take on the toughest of challenges. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this partnership that provides opportunities to those who need it most."

Over the summer, Mayor Walsh convened a group of City departments to better coordinate City efforts around the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue. As one of its core goals, this group is focused on ensuring the streets are well-maintained, including more consistent cleanup, landscaping and public art. With its Medical School campus in this neighborhood, Boston University immediately stepped up to assist with this effort.

"We are proud to support Mayor Walsh's efforts and are committed to be a good neighbor and partner," said Valeda Britton, Executive Director of Community Relations/Medical Campus for Boston University's Office of Government and Community Affairs. "Boston University and its Medical Campus has called the South End our home for many years. Every day we strive to improve the health and well-being of our community members. This partnership between BU, the City, and Project Place is just one example of our commitment and dedication."

The Project Place's Clean Corners Bright Hopes program has dedicated more than 75 hours a week to act as ambassadors in the area around Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue.  This work includes picking up litter and discarded syringes, maintaining planters at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Southampton Street, and acting as a friendly face for visitors to the neighborhood.

"Clean Corners is a social program that works. It's an affordable option for urban communities that want to keep their neighborhoods and business districts clean, and employees learn valuable skills through on-the-job training that they can later use to obtain mainstream employment," said Suzanne Kenney, Executive Director of Project Place. "But what's so impressive about our work in the Melnea Cass Boulevard area is that our employees are also acting like ambassadors for independence. Over the course of a week, our Clean Corners employees field about 30 questions from area residents about how they can find employment and get help with housing and substance use recovery services."

Continuing to work on beautification is one of the City's top priorities. In addition to Project's Place work to clean the neighborhood, Mahoney's Garden Center has provided flowers at reduced cost.

Project Place is acting as an important supplement to other critical City services, which have been enhanced in the neighborhood surrounding Melnea Cass Blvd. and Massachusetts Avenue.

In addition to Project Place's efforts, four individuals from the Boston Public Health Commission's Outreach Team work seven days a week providing outreach to individuals in the Melnea Cass Boulevard-Massachusetts Ave neighborhood. They engage with approximately 400 people in the neighborhood each week, assisting about 10 percent of those engaged in accessing treatment and helping those once barred from a shelter to regain admission and get the support they need.