SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — When it comes to the challenges associated with homelessness the police often have to balance the needs of the community with the needs of the individual. A Schenectady officer is doing that while raising awareness at the same time.
Homelessness is an issue everywhere and Schenectady is no different. Some afternoons, you’ll see a gathering under railroad bridges in the Stockade Section, and in the evenings they may call this place “home”.
Shayla Moore s a lifelong Schenectady resident. She and her service dog Nazai go for walks near one of those bridges. “Honestly. I think there should be more comfort care. If there is a possibility of getting them shelter,” Moore told News10’s Anya Tucker.
Near the tracks, you can find evidence of some small encampments. But working near to them isn’t always easy, said Adam Zima of Capitol Kitchens And Baths. “The challenge for us is when they go behind the building to use the facilities. Behind the side of our building.”
Neighborhood association president Mary Ann Ruscitto is also frustrated. “It’s just the garbage and that kind of stuff around the neighborhood.” She said another neighbor contacted her after becoming frightened by a woman who sometimes camps under the bridges who was walking along the street screaming in the early morning hours. Ruscitto called the police asking them to remove the homeless people from her stockade neighborhood.
“We can’t solve every issue in a day,” said Lt. Ryan Macherone of the Schenectady Police. He added that building bridges has been a much more successful approach.
“Really, the police department has probably the least role in this. We are are more of a facilitator if just kind of letting these agencies help with individuals know where the issues are,” said Macherone.
But he’s also going the extra mile, working long hours helping to locate resources for people facing homelessness. He also recently used his own money to buy a new tube for a homeless woman’s bike.
“It’s a way to get around. A bit of freedom. So we wanted to restore that to her.”
When Macherone explained the dire situation of some of the folks he trying to help to Mary Ann says her feelings her feeling began to shift.
“And I told him that too. ‘I just want to thank you for explaining that to me.’ Because I really didn’t think that. I just thought they were a nuisance on the street, get rid of them. But somebody’s got to help them. Somebody’s got to step up to the plate. And I admire them that they’re doing this,” she said.