Cambridge Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (HEART) is a community-led proactive public safety program that aims to address the immediate needs of people in conflict or crisis (at the moment of crisis). We will directly deploy HEART responders for EMERGENCY calls, including for those with mental illness and/or substance use disorders in public spaces as well as domestic spaces (within people’s homes).



  • Trauma informed care

  • Harm reduction

  • Self-determination

  • Connection

  • Transformation

  • Interdependence


Cambridge HEART works toward creating a city free of carceral systems where cycles of violence are replaced with practices of care, healing, transformative accountability, and community self-determination.




Core Beliefs

No police involvement

No clinicians as responders

No social workers as responders


The HEART model is what the community articulated as a solution that better supports a set of populations who are presently un- and underserved by the existing public safety system. These identified populations include undocumented residents.

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Have questions about Cambridge HEART? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Or contact us at info@cambridge-heart.org.

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Learn more about how Cambridge HEART came to be and its relationship to the City of Cambridge.

The Black Response (TBR)

The Black Response is an advocacy organization composed primarily of young Black and Brown current and former Cambridge residents.

Our mission is to advocate for a broad vision for grassroots focused economic, housing and social justice in Cambridge and, in particular, the development and implementation of an alternative public safety program that centers and serves the most marginalized community members.

The Black Response is fiscally sponsored by Community Service Cares.

The participatory action process that led to the development of the Cambridge HEART model was convened by The Black Response. Cambridge HEART, one operational, will be autonomous from The Black Response.

Presentation to the Public Safety Committee

Watch a recording of the meeting here.