Updated 8:30 a.m. Nov. 17

A new encampment of tents, tarps and makeshift homes has emerged in Newmarket Square, just around the corner from the now-empty corridor near Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard where hundreds of people had lived just weeks ago.

About 30 tents, a fraction of the number that had been present nearby, have reappeared along Theodore Glynn Way, a few blocks from where city officials conducted a “general cleanup” earlier this month. The street connects the avenue and Southampton Street.

Of the roughly 300 people who had been living near Mass. and Cass, according to a count from the Boston Public Health Commission, 66 people were moved into transitional housing, shelter or a treatment facility, the city of Boston said in a statement. Of those people, 13 people were placed "on pathways to transitional housing," 21 went into shelters and 32 were placed in residential treatment, according to city officials.

Malakai, who asked GBH News not to use his last name, was at the new encampment on Tuesday. He handed a man a pocketful of loose change in exchange for a sleeping bag, then carried the mass of rumpled fabric to his tent. “It wasn’t a decision to come here,” he said.

Malakai, 46, said he’s trying to get transitional housing, but he doesn’t want to return to a shelter environment. The one shelter he likes, in Harvard Square, has a lottery system he finds almost impossible to navigate. He says he’s dealt with mistreatment and abuse at other shelters offered to people displaced from Mass. and Cass.

“The shelter staff get paid to do what they do, and they give you an attitude like you chose their job, when they chose a job of compassion — but they have none,” he said.

City officials shouldn’t be surprised that a new encampment cropped up nearby, Malakai said. It was only a matter of time.

“When you force somebody into a corner, you're asking for trouble,” he said. “You're asking for problems.”

A new encampment in Newmarket Square, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021
Tori Bedford GBH News

Earlier this week, then-acting Mayor Kim Janey submitted a request for information for providers who can help scale transitional housing and other services for people experiencing homelessness, including centers for medical care and low-threshold shelters. The Office of Health and Human Services gave providers a deadline of Nov. 22 to respond.

“Last month, we declared unsheltered homelessness, substance use disorder, and mental illness a public health crisis in Boston,” Janey said in a statement. “We must meet the urgency of this moment with more resources for individuals facing these challenges.”

On Monday, state officials confirmed to GBH News that a part of the 13-acre Shattuck Hospital campus in Jamaica Plain will be converted into a “temporary cottage community” in December.

Up to 30 people experiencing homelessness will be accommodated in low-threshold transitional housing “in their transition from the streets to permanent housing and longer-term stability,” Health and Human Services Secretary Maylou Sudders wrote in a letter to residents of the South End and Roxbury. “The safety of the residents as well as hospital staff, patients and the surrounding neighborhoods is paramount.”

"When you force somebody into a corner, you're asking for trouble."

Peter, a 46-year-old man with a physical disability, said he has been on a waiting list for transitional housing for four and a half years — and has been experiencing homelessness for five.

“I don't go to shelters anymore. I stay outside, and it's just easier that way,” said Peter, who asked his last name not be used. “They run shelters like a jail, instead of helping people get back on their feet and check on their housing.”

He said he has been forced to relocate before, moving and returning to makeshift homes around the neighborhood.

“They just keep changing their minds and bouncing us around like I'm a pinball machine or something,” Peter said. “They just don't know what to do. They keep moving everybody around until it becomes full circle, and you’re in the exact same spot as before. They tried to shut everything down, and then they got a bunch of people congregating in the street. … It always goes back to the way it was before.”

Peter stands outside his tent in Newmarket Square, Nov. 16, 2021
Tori Bedford GBH News

In 2019, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh conducted "Operation Clean Sweep," a raid of homeless encampments near Mass. and Cass, which resulted in dozens of arrests. Slowly, the encampment was rebuilt, until Janey’s “general cleanup."

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, ACLU officials compared Janey’s approach to the 2019 sweep, arguing that displacing people without giving them appropriate accommodations violates their civil rights.

“We need to come up with a solution other than thinking that we can arrest our way out,” Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, told GBH News in an interview. “When you have a law enforcement response to a public health crisis, it's simply going to fail. That's not only a theoretical matter, we actually experienced it because it failed between August 2019 and now.”

A Suffolk Superior Court judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the ACLU lawsuit Wednesday morning.

Janey has pushed back on comparisons to sweeps in the past, arguing that her administration took “a lot of steps to make sure that we were approaching this with a public-health lens, making sure that we weren’t allowing folks to continue to talk about tents and encampments, when the real issue [is] people,” in an interview earlier this week on GBH's Boston Public Radio.

She declined to comment on the ACLU lawsuit, emphasizing the “public health approach” and reiterating that “no one is being asked to leave without adequate housing options for them.”

Though the majority of those brought in to a special court session for people on Mass. and Cass have been charged with minor drug offenses, Janey told Boston Public Radio that “arrests that’ve happened have been due to warrants that existed — drug trafficking, human trafficking, things of that sort.”

Mayor Michelle Wu, who was sworn into office on Tuesday, told reporters at a news conference earlier this month that she was looking into incidents, first reported by GBH News, of people being brought into a makeshift courthouse in the Suffolk County Jail while waiting in line for methadone.

“That would be unacceptable,” Wu said. “There's clear understanding from within the folks at the table today that that’s not something that should ever happen."

Last week, Wu named former Dr. Monica Bharel, the former commissioner of the state’s Department of Public Health, to supervise efforts in the area over the next six months as a Mass. and Cass czar.

In a statement, Wu said Boston would "prioritize public health and housing and center the safety and dignity of all those struggling with substance use disorder, mental health and housing instability."

This story was updated to correct a typo.