ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Affordable housing has become more difficult to find in Albany. People who live in tents said the city’s sweeps have dehumanized them and want a new approach to the problem.
Jasmine Tice has been staying in Washington Park with friends and they woke up to commotion. She said she went to use the restroom and less than 5 minutes later Albany’s Department of General Services took her tent.
“I freaked out. He got out of his tent and started yelling, ‘That’s someone’s stuff! They just left for two seconds!’ So they let me get the tent out and like one bag of stuff but I couldn’t tell what was even in there. It was everything I owned,” said Tice.
She said they’ve thrown out her stuff a couple of times in the past. “It makes me feel like a piece of garbage to be honest,” said Tice.
Timothy Charles lives in a nearby tent and tried to intervene. “We are just looking for some help and it’s not coming in our direction,” said Charles.
City of Albany Spokesperson David Galin said camping at the park is not allowed.
“The City of Albany is not to have our parks become campgrounds. They are places for our residents and visitors to enjoy their supposed to be safe and clean,” said Galin. “What we are hearing from the service providers is that we aren’t seeing a shortage of available beds, like some other places in the country, there are beds available.”
Perry Jones is the executive director at Capital City Rescue Mission and said they need more beds and are experiencing a roughly tripled increase in demand.
“For us, we are busier than normal at this time of year but we have about 275 people a night that stay under all of our various roofs, our different programs for men, women, and children,” said Jones.
He said the beds are full and they have over 100 people who sleep on the floor on mats. The mission has plans to expand but the timeline is uncertain because of delays with the city’s planning board, Jones said.
The expansion would include a recreation center, a laundry room, resource navigators and lockers, which would address Tice and Charles’ fears of getting robbed at shelters.
Charles says people see them as subhuman and he wants that to change so they can get tangible help.
“Acknowledge that there are Americans here that are seeking help and we cannot get it. We can’t get it,” said Charles.