UPDATE: Albany looking to clean up overpasses; not kick out homeless
Update: Last week city officials came out and told a homeless man living underneath the bypass on highway 19 that they planned to clean out area including his stuff. On Wednesday they followed through on the promise.
Three garbage bags filled with clothes and blankets is all that Colin Bailey has left.
He says a crew came at about 9 a.m. and threw away all his other possessions including food and some toiletries. Now that his stuff is gone, Bailey says he is not sure what he is going to do next.
"I feel it's not right. I feel like they should leave homeless people alone, because we've got to survive out here somehow. I've got enough money to get me a motel room for one night, but after that I don't know what I'm going to do," said Bailey.
Last week city officials said they had to clean out the area, because the property is owned by state. They also said they don't have an actual policy to make Bailey move but cannot allow his stuff to collect under the bypass.
The Albany Code Enforcement Department cracked down on cleaning up the Highway 19 overpass at Slappey Boulevard; but one homeless man who lives under the bridge isn't happy. "I told them to leave my stuff alone but they said they were ordered to move everything off this bridge," says Colin Bailey.
Colin Bailey is homeless, but finds shelter under that overpass. And while his makeshift home suits him just fine, the city isn't having it. "I was planning on cleaning my own mess up because I had a guy with a truck who was going to haul all my garbage off, then here comes the city," says Bailey.
The city has received multiple complaints about the amount of trash in that area. And while the bridge is owned by the state, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith says it's the city's job to take care of it. "We are required to clean around those bridges and underneath them so we elected to send a crew out there to do some cleaning," says Smith.
The city sent crews to the area on Thursday to start picking up trash. "We had prison crews out there. They didn't finish the job; there's going to be some heavy equipment necessary to move some addition stuff in there to make it look good," says Smith.
Bailey says he enjoys living up there because he has a difficult time getting along with others. "People aren't honest, they're not trustworthy, they steal from me, they lie to me, and they cheat me," says Bailey.
And while the city just wants to clean up, Bailey says they want him to move out in three days. "They'll take my food, clothing. I'll be back on these cold streets. I tried to tell them that I have nowhere else to go but the woods," says Bailey.
And while Bailey says the city is trying to force him from staying under the overpass, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith says that's not the case. They're ok with the people under there - it's the mess that they have a problem with. "The individuals are on state property and we feel we don't have the authority to go in there and do anything but if the state wanted to they certainly could. At this point in time the issue for us is cleanliness because that's one of the main entrance and exit of the community; so we couldn't allow it to not look good," says Smith.
Smith says they didn't finish cleaning up the area just yet. They plan on making another trip to the expressway to finish the job.