Wednesday, February 1, 2023


New Mexico legislation would boost protections for LGBTQ students, Idaho makes a big jump in higher-education attainment, and this year's Monarch butterfly winter count showed significant improvement.


The Senate considers police reforms in the wake of Tyre Nichols' killing, members of Congress want a new vote on the Equal Rights Amendment, and George Santos voluntarily steps down from his committee appointments.


"Brain Gain?" Research shows rural population is actually growing, especially in recreational areas; other small towns are having success offering relocation incentives like free building lots, cash, complimentary dinners and even internet credits; and researchers say the key is flexibility and creativity.

Engagement Center Finding Success Near Boston’s Troubled 'Mass and Cass'


Tuesday, November 29, 2022   

Boston's 'Mass and Cass' area, with its large homeless population and open-air drug market, remains a trouble spot for city officials, but staff at the nearby Engagement Center say they are making inroads and helping drug-overdose survivors get the help they need.

Researchers interviewed 59 overdose survivors, more than half of whom were living on the street, to find out what was preventing them from getting treatment.

Jeff Desmarais, research and evaluation scientist at Institute for Community Health, said a lack of basic amenities, such as housing and access to a cell phone or proper ID, made a big difference, but that it also came down to a personal touch.

"Having staff that really care about folks and treat them with respect and dignity was one thing that folks were drawn to and helped them engage in and stay in care," Desmarais said.

More than half of Black and Latinx overdose survivors said they had encountered some form of discrimination in trying to access city health services. A lack of available treatment beds due to staffing shortages is also preventing people from getting clean.

The opioid epidemic, along with a lack of affordable housing and COVID, have all contributed to the increase in homelessness in the 'Mass and Cass' area. The Engagement Center offers the nearby population help to find housing, medical care, jobs, or even just a warm cup of coffee and a shower.

Yailka Cardenas, associate bureau director for recovery services with the Boston Public Health Commission, said some staff at the center have experienced addiction and homelessness themselves and can meet people where they are.

"No matter what they come to us with," Cardenas said, "we always try our very best to come up with a solution, and they feel very supported that even if we can't figure it out that day, we will figure something out for them within a timely manner."

Cardenas said personal relationships go a long way in helping people get clean, and that the Engagement Center can serve as a model for other day facilities serving similar populations. She said survivors, many of whom experience instability and trauma on a daily basis, report feeling safe and welcomed at the Engagement Center, which is the first and most important step in helping them change their lives.

Disclosure: Institute for Community Health contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Mental Health, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Eye-care professionals say limiting screen time before bedtime, using blue light-blocking filters on your devices, and wearing blue light-blocking glasses can all help protect from potential health risks. (Pixabay)

Health and Wellness

With the increasing use of digital devices and computers in daily life, we're all exposed to more and more blue light. They may be convenient and …

Health and Wellness

Reproductive rights advocates are cheering Minnesota's new law centering around abortion access. Supporters predict it could help in other ways for …

Social Issues

Idaho and the rest of the country are making progress getting higher education to more people. A new report from Lumina Foundation finds nearly 54% …

From 2019 to 2020, the U.S. saw a 6% increase in deaths from cardiovascular disease. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

The U.S. saw a surge in cardiovascular-related deaths during the first year of the pandemic, and voices from South Dakota's health community hope it …


This winter, volunteers counted more than 335,000 Western monarch butterflies in an annual survey, a big improvement over the last few years…

The death penalty was abolished in Washington state in 2018. (Felipe Caparrós/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

A new book by a University of Washington professor on the death penalty finds support for executions may be motivated by people's own fear of death…

Social Issues

A recent survey offers insight into the challenges with hunger many Nevada families are facing on a daily basis. The "Feeding Our Community" survey …


City water leaders in Des Moines are considering a $50 million plan to use Mother Nature as a giant water filter to remove nitrates from the city's dr…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright © 2021