News10NBC Investigates: The tent city remains at the Loomis Street lot

[anvplayer video=”5145603″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One week ago we took you to a vacant lot where the city cut clear the trees and overgrown brush. To us, it exposed an open-air heroin market and tent city. News10NBC went back there today because the neighbors say the tents have returned.

“It’s just sad that I, and other taxpayers in this area, have to be subjected to this,” said Nina Becoats-Gaines.

Becoats-Gaines returned with me to the lot on Loomis Street, just off Joseph Avenue and in back of a historic Jewish temple. Last Tuesday we saw the city clearing away a dense forest of trees and thorn bushes.

“Did they really clean up?” Becoats-Gaines asked. “Look at this pile of mess. The tents are right back.”

I took photos today that show orange needle caps and syringes along the side walk. This is how some people live in America.

Brean: “The county told me they came here the day they cleaned this out and tried to talk to people and many of them just refused the help at that time. You can’t force help on somebody.”

Nina Becoats-Gaines: “You can’t force help but you can enforce those no trespassing signs.”

The city posted “no trespassing” signs on 4×4 stakes that border the lot. The signs say “violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

In an email, the mayor’s spokeswoman said, “No Trespassing signs were posted in late September to inform people who frequent the site that it is not a public park. All of this work has been thoughtful and deliberate. The City continues to make progress, both in addressing the needs of people with substance use disorder, as well as those of the residents and business owners in the neighborhood.”

The House of Mercy is four minutes from the lot and it reopened today for the first time since a murder of a resident in August. I told the executive director where I had just come from.

Brean: “I’m wondering if they could find a home here?”

Dr. Tammy Butler, House of Mercy: “So one of the things I want to say is House of Mercy is a space where people who are interested in finding shelter from the streets, that’s what we are – a homeless shelter.”

Dr. Tammy Butler’s answer reflects a change at the House of Mercy. Over the past 40 years, people used to live at the House for long periods of time. Now the goal of the House is to transition people from the street to a home.

“They’re not doing it in the suburbs Berkeley,” Becoats-Gaines said back at the lot on Loomis Street. “They’re not doing it in Henrietta, they’re not doing it in Gates, they’re not doing it in Webster, they’re not even doing it in Irondequoit. Some of us want to live as comfortable as the ones in the suburbs.”

The county, which works with the city to provide services to the people living in tents on Loomis Street, said it’s a complex issue and a lot of people are dealing with drug addiction, so it’s more than just a housing issue.