News10NBC Investigates: Homeless Hotspot: The Carter Street bridge

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s a popular hang-out for the homeless in Rochester. Those who drive by the Carter Street bridge near Route 104 will see the underpass packed with everything from mattresses to bikes to used drug needles.

News10NBC has been investigating what’s being done to address the problem spot for two years now but recently Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke went under the bridge to talk with those who call it home.

Morning, noon and night, you’ll normally find someone panhandling near the Carter Street bridge in Rochester. One of the people asking for your money is Pete Abbott.

Abbott grew up in Webster and dropped out of high school in the 9th grade.

“I’ve done 18 years in prison for burglaries and larcenies, I got released with $40 and nothing,” he tells News10NBC.

Nothing, but an addiction that literally led him to this bridge.

“I ended up here because I had an overdose and I got released from the hospital and I had nowhere to go and this bridge was right here so I just picked to come here,” Abbott explained.

He’s lived under the bridge for the last several months. Everything he owns has been accumulating under one side of it which he shares with another woman.

“This is all stuff that people have given me out of generosity, I haven’t sold it for drugs I’ve kept it,” Abbott explained while showing News10NBC his set-up.

While Abbott and his friend are the only long-term residents at the bridge, he does admit that many others use it as a place to stop and shoot-up.

News10NBC saw that first-hand during an investigation in July of 2019. Thousands of used needles had to be removed by the NYS Department of Transportation and the City of Rochester during a clean-up. At the time, they promised to work together to try and avoid future problems. A year-and-a-half later, we’re not quite back to square one but pretty close.

The major problem for Abbot, his friend and many of the roughly 800 people in Rochester who are homeless on any given night.

“I can’t get no help from nobody without ID, I don’t have an address to get an ID sent to so, that’s why I don’t have an ID,” he explained.

Abbott was hoping to get some help and get his stuff removed from under the bridge before the next DOT clean up but he didn’t make it.

On Wednesday morning, he says the DOT showed up with NYS Police and told him to grab what he could. The rest of his stuff was thrown away.

A spokesman for DOT told News10NBC they now try and clean-out the right-of-way a few times a year.

Abbott is frustrated that he’s lost most of his belongings but he’s still trying to look to the future.

“I was on the suboxone program but I don’t feel comfortable being on the program and leaving my medication up here unattended and I’ve had stuff stolen from me, every day something comes up missing right now so once I get into an apartment and have a place to call my own and can lock my stuff up I’m going to address my issues that you know keep me out here you know,” he said.

A group called Person Centered Housing Options (PCHO) is trying to help.

In the meantime, Abbott asks passerby’s to consider this, “We’re all people just like you and may we all have our own issues and struggles and all of us aren’t out here just because we’re using drugs or whatever the case may be a lot of us just don’t have nobody else out there or our situation from past bad decisions we made and led us to this.”