Shelter Location Disputed

Homeless Drug Abusers Are Danger to Area, Residents Say

Cambridge residents expressed their anger last night at the fact that four of the six proposed locations of a shelter for substance abusers are located in their Central Square neighborhood.

The 150 Cantabrigians demonstrated their concerns to city leaders at the community forum held at the Central Square YWCA.

They argued that Central Square is already overburdened with homeless people, and said the new shelter would attract more homeless to the area and magnify the Square's share of a city-wide burden.

"I don't think that Central Square should suffer all the weight of Cambridge and Somerville," said Lawrence Simms, a Cambridge resident.

The suggested shelter sites are for the relocation of Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation (CASPAR), which has had temporary residence on MIT property for 14 years.


Gregg Miller, the center's executive director, said the program is in dire need of a permanent location.

"Our funding is dependent upon getting a permanent facility, Miller said. "Last night every bed and every inch of floor space was filled.

Last September, Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72appointed a committee to examine possiblepermanent locations for CASPAR.

The committee includes three city councillors,CASPAR officials, an MIT representative and otherCambridge residents.

In October, MIT offered to trade a building on380 Green St. in Central Square to the city--tohouse the CASPAR facility--for three and a halfstreets of Cambridge land.

But Cantabrigians opposed that proposal onOctober 27 when the committee met with them forthe first time.

The residents, led by the Cambridge Ward 5Democratic Committee and the Central SquareNeighborhood Coalition, said last night theyopposed the Green Street location because it wasin too densely populated an area.

They also rejected the Green Street locationbecause such an exchange favored MIT.

The committee has tabled the Green Streetproposal and is now actively pursuing proposals tomove CASPAR to one of five newly proposed sights,three of which are in Central Square.

City Councillor Jonathan S. Myers, who chairsthe committee, said that the committee needs towork with Cambridge residents to find a suitablelocation. "We have a community problem and we needa community solution," Myers said.

Most of the Cantabrigians at last night'smeeting praised CASPAR for its success in publicservice.

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