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State says Boston should do more to address issues at 'Mass. and Cass'

The state is defending its level of support to the city of Boston in addressing issues in the area of the city known as “Mass. and Cass” after Boston Mayor Michelle Wu publicly asked the state for more help.

In a sharply worded letter sent to Wu on Wednesday, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Lou Sudders highlighted the $40 million the state provided for low-threshold housing and clinical treatment, among other interventions, and said that the city needs to do more. The letter suggests that Boston pursue criminal investigations and community policing efforts.

“The Administration has been and continues to be a very willing partner in this crisis,” Sudders’ letter said “but at this point more work must be done by the City of Boston, including leveraging the $5M of the $18M anticipated in opioid settlement funds to build trust and help people receive the housing, care and support to find the pathway to recovery.”

Sudders wrote the administration is surprised by Wu’s comments at a press conference and on WBUR’s Radio Boston on Monday that the city is seeking a partnership with the state. Sudders’ letter said the city “disbanded its regular coordinating meeting” with the state last month and that the state is still a “very willing partner in this crisis.”

In her recent comments, Wu asked the state to create 1,000 more so-called “low threshold” housing units outside of Boston. Low-threshold housing provides case management and services for those who may not be eligible for homeless shelters because of mental health or addiction issues.

Wu also touted the city’s creation of 200 housing units since January, when the city removed a large tent encampment from the “Mass. and Cass” area. Sudders’ letter said almost half of those were funded by the state — and there are plans for 800 more state-funded housing units.

She urged the mayor to help the Baker administration advocate for legislative approval for $20 million for regional low-threshold housing.

Wu’s office has not responded to requests for comment as of publish time on Wednesday evening.

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