Cambridge District Court Homeless Session relocates to Harvard Square.
The Homeless Session of the Cambridge District Court has been relocated from the Salvation Army in Central Square to the First Parish Church in Harvard Square commencing on December 11, 2017.
In an effort to address the needs of Cambridge’s large homeless population and their skyrocketing default rate, due to the relocation eight years ago of the Cambridge district Court to Medford, First Justice Roanne Sragow, brought the criminal justice system back to Cambridge.
The unique problems confronting this segment of the population, compelled Judge Sragow to convene a group of treatment providers, specializing in alcohol and drug addiction, Cambridge city officials offering assistance in attaining housing, social workers from Rosie’s Place and Caspar, Cambridge Hospital emergency physicians, probation officers, public defenders and prosecutors.
Cambridge Police officers Eric Helberg and Matthew Price, members of the Cambridge police department’s homeless outreach unit, have been instrumental in the success of this session. This impressive group of court officials, social service providers and police officers meet before each court session, which takes place once a month, to discuss each case individually and address the problems specific to that particular defendant.
Judge Sragow reported that over the past year, the recidivism rate has decreased and housing and assistance has been provided for every participant. Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association said the business community witnesses on a daily basis, the challenges confronting homeless individuals. Jillson said, “Homelessness is a complicated societal issue that affects our businesses, residents, students and visitors to the Square in a variety of ways. We see the problems firsthand. It is our responsibility to be part of the solution.”
Judge Sragow stated, “I am grateful to Pastor Adam Dyer, the First Parish church and the Harvard Square Business Association for their assistance in relocating the Court session.”