City Council Funds Programs for Homeless Teens

City councillors approved tens of thousands of dollars in funding to expand work programs and social help for homeless teens in the city at their weekly meeting Monday.

The Cambridge City Council allocated more than $35,000 to help the Cambridge Youth on Fire program, a drop-in center for young adults experiencing homelessness. The agency has impacted more than 3,000 youth since it opened in 2000, and provides services such as hot meals, health care and screening, and education programs.

The money came alongside other moves by the City Council to support teens in the city, including the allocation of funds to create a teen youth intern program at the Moore Youth Center.

Councillor Dennis J. Carlone was particularly excited by the programs, and said he hoped to see them expand to include more organizations and work areas.

“One thing this project could do is include the Charles River Basin maintenance,” he said, adding that they had expressed interest in a partnership. “Landscape maintenance is a great skill to learn and potential job employment.”

The City Manager’s team responded that as long as appropriate supervision was available, the city would be “absolutely” interested and would help facilitate that program.

The city also addressed expansions to its curbside composting program, which was approved for the creation of four new positions and the purchase of new bins and other infrastructure. The approved funding stands at roughly $1.4 million, the majority of which was a one-time upfront cost for new equipment.

Although they were in support of the expansion, multiple councillors voiced concerns about other issues, including the potential for increasing rodent problems, negative environmental impacts where the waste compost ends up, and data privacy.

The bins, which come with barcodes that are scanned when they are collected, allows the city to track data about the bins, which some councillors saw little value in.

“What are we going to tell them ‘you’re not composting enough,’” Carlone said. “My data is my own.”

Councillors also discussed concerns that large, long-term construction and urban development projects were impacting access to small businesses as well as another resolution that impacts the ownership of beehives by Cantabrigians.

The current slate of city councillors have two more meetings this term. The newly-elected councillors will be sworn in on Jan. 1.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at nicholas.sundberg@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg

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