New homeless encampment appears near former site cleared by city

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ROCHESTER, N.Y.- News10NBC has been reporting on the city’s efforts to clear a homeless camp on Loomis Street.

That’s gone, but some tents have popped up on nearby Joseph Avenue and it has residents like Nina Becoats Gaines fed up.

“Hello?” Becoats Gaines said. “Hello? Hi, how are you? I’m a property owner in this area. You having your tents that’s not acceptable. You have to find somewhere else because I’m going to call the police.”

Instead of calling the police to force them to leave, she met Michael. Nina wanted to know why he was living in a tent.

“I’m addicted to a drug,” Michael said. “I have a physical dependency to a drug that my brain doesn’t compute. Putting a roof over my head is more important than the drug.”

Although Michael said he actually wants help.

Michael: “I’ve been homeless now for almost eight months going on nine and still yet to have any type of benefits, Medicaid, food stamps, housing, anything.”

Nina Becoats-Gaines: “So are you willing to go into a rehab?”

Michael: “Absolutely.”

Nina: “But you need your Medicaid in order to go?”

Michael: “Exactly.”

Nina: “Wow. I’m going to talk to my girlfriend who is a DSS worker and I’m going to see what steps you need to take and I’m going to get back to you so you can get your help,” Becoats-Gaines said.

Michael: “I appreciate that.”

An encounter that started rocky but ended much differently- and an encounter advocate Nick Coulter, of Person Centered Housing Options, said was much needed.

“That’s PCHO’s goal is that we bypass the whole shelter system,” Coulter said. “We believe that housing is a human right and that people can go from any point in their homelessness into permanent residence.”

“Throughout that should be treatment,” he said. “Throughout that should be overdose prevention centers.”

“All of that should be part of his menu of services that he can choose because if it doesn’t meet their needs then we’re going to continue to have this.”