BHCA Community Corner

Our Homeless Population Who are they?

Boston’s downtown area is home to one of the city’s largest homeless populations, according to the Boston Police Department Street Outreach Team’s semi-annual census. Conducted last summer and winter during the night, officers gather demographic information by conducting interviews with homeless individuals they encounter in parks, garages, alleys, doorways and elsewhere.

More than two-thirds of the 145 homeless individuals interviewed last summer were aged 50 or younger with the highest concentration between age 18 and 30. More than half were white and nearly three-quarters male. The vast majority has been homeless for less than five years and about 16 percent for ten or more years. More than 90 percent were American citizens, 70 percent from Massachusetts and very few from Boston. The most often cited agency from which homeless individuals received assistance is the Pine Street Inn.

While many Beacon Hill residents believe more homeless individuals are seen on neighborhood streets and parks this fall, there is apparently no data to support an increase, according to BHCA Safety Committee Chair Paula O’Keefe.

Looking with compassion for a solution

A Town Meeting on Homelessness will be held by the BHCA Safety Committee in conjunction with the Area A-1 Boston Police Department at 7 pm on Thursday, November 10. Captain Kenneth Fong, district commander, and Community Service Officers John Doris and Kerry Wells, who oversees its homeless programs, will talk about ways to deal with various aspects of the homeless population. This program is being held in response to recent concerns about the increase of intoxicated individuals loitering and littering on their properties that were expressed by residents living near Cambridge Street.

A Walk Down Cambridge Street A newly-formed group of Beacon Hill residents have joined together to think of positive ways to improve the quality of life on Cambridge Street, particularly on its south side. On Thursday, October 20 (rain date Oct 24), they will meet at 6 pm near the Red Hat on Bowdoin Street to walk down Cambridge Street towards Charles Street, identifying problem areas such as those that attract homeless individuals, trees that need watering, sidewalks not kept clean, and more. Other concerned individuals are welcome to join the group.

Did you know?

Dialing 311 is the way to go

Whether you see a broken street sign, hazardous sidewalk situation, pothole in need of repair, street needing cleaning or a gas lamp not working, just call 311 to let the city know.

Dialing 311 will get you to the City of Boston’s Constituent Service Center 24 hours a day, every day, all year. It’s like one-stop shopping for fixing all the non-emergency issues that crop up on the city’s heavily-used streets and sidewalks.

If you have a smartphone, download the 311 app. This enables you to send photos of the issue you are reporting and allows you to to track the progress of your request. You can also Tweet @BOS311.

Executive Director Patricia Tully recommends the 311 service to those who call the BHCA office to report a problem. She herself uses it regularly and says the city responds quickly. “It is really gratifying to see that this system works so well,” she said. “I sent a picture of a broken iron plate in the sidewalk near Lindall Place which was a hazard to pedestrians, and it was fixed in a few days. Other residents have reported very good results with this service as well.”

A Piece of the Past

The history of Cambridge Street

In the 1800s, Bowdoin Square was considered the most stylish neighborhood in Boston. Many of Boston’s prominent citizens such as Harrison Gray Otis built elegant mansions on Cambridge Street, once a cow path dating back to 1647. Commercialization came quickly and by the early 1900s, the street had transformed into an avenue of small shops that primarily served its North Slope and West End neighbors. In 1923, Mayor James Curley launched a plan to widen the street from 40 to 100 feet to alleviate increased traffic. It took two years for the city to complete at a cost of $3.5 million. As many as 130 properties were affected, including the Bullfinch-designed Otis house, which was separated from it foundation, supported by steel beams and rolled back 42 feet on large wooden rolling pins. The only mansion to be preserved, the process took an entire week.

Get involved

Our committees comprise volunteers working together from all over the neighborhood to assure that we all can enjoy a good quality of life here. We welcome you to jump aboard.

Monday, October 17th:

Architectural Committee Meeting at 74 Joy Street, 5pm

Tuesday, October 18th:

Green Committee Meeting at 74 Joy Street, 6pm

Thursday, October 20th:

Beacon Hill Architectural Commission Hearing at City Hall, 4pm

Save the date for these BHCA events

Joint BHBA/BHCA Charles Street Fall Cleanup – Wednesday, October 19th, beginning at Charles/Beacon Streets, 2-5 pm

Halloween on the Hill – Monday, October 31

Town Meeting on Homelessness – Thursday, November 10

Garlands & Green Holiday Fundraiser – Wednesday, November 16th

Holiday Decorating Days – Saturday & Sunday, December 3-4

Winter Gala – Saturday, February 4

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