Homeless in Central Square

Written by Rachel Kashdan

Rachel Kashdan
BU News Service

It’s not unusual to come up the steps from the Red Line at the MBTA Central Square T stop and notice someone crouched against the side of the station entrance or leaning up against a storefront nearby. More homeless cluster in Carl Barron Plaza just outside the station.

In Cambridge, there are approximately 464 people living on the streets, as reported in the city’s annual homelessness census conducted on the night of February 25. While there is no data available about the number of homeless individuals in the Central and Inman Square area specifically, the homeless population in Central Square has city officials, residents, and visitors particularly worried.

“Many of these individuals see Central Square as their ‘living room,’ and the behavior of some, particularly for those new to Central Square, can be cause for concern,” a report by the Mayor’s Red Ribbon Commission on the “Delights and Concerns of Central Square” in 2011 states.

According to City Councilor Craig Kelley, four years later, this phenomenon hasn’t changed.

“Right now for a lot of people Central Square is like their living room, a super informal place to hang out and do whatever you want,” Kelley said.

It’s something that area residents continue to notice as well.

“Usually I see [homeless] people in Central Square, not usually outside of Central Square like not usually in Inman Square or anything…They’re usually just hanging out I think,” Jamie Frank, 34, of Inman Square, said.

There are resources seeking to help solve the homelessness in the area. The Cambridge Multi-Service Center, one of the city’s most comprehensive resources for homeless, is located in Central Square. The center provides assistance with securing housing, finding job training programs, and short term counseling.

Healthcare for the Homeless, a program offering health services throughout Cambridge, also runs three clinics. This program is another resource offering healthcare to people whether they are struggling with a physical or mental illness, substance abuse, and addiction.

The Homeless Services Planning Committee of Cambridge holds meetings once a month in Central Square for citizens who are or have been homeless in the city.

Still, some think that these resources are not adequate.

“I would say it seems like there aren’t enough [services] because there are people who are on the street. I don’t think there are as many as in Boston…but there definitely seem to be people that are in need of services here,” Frank said.



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