Editorial: Ease effects of YMCA transition
Any move can be challenging. Even positive moves, like getting a better job or relocating to a new city or graduating from high school.
But a move also can be particularly difficult for those who don't possess the ability to cope with change in the same positive way others do. And in those cases, a little extra compassion and education might be needed to ease the transition.
Sometime in the next few days, about 150 indigent men will be moving from the old Schenectady YMCA on State Street into newly renovated quarters at 845 Broadway. Some of these individuals have mental-health and substance-abuse issues; some are developmentally disabled; some are just suffering the effects of being homeless and poverty stricken and of living in subsidized housing for so many years.
The move to the newly renovated industrial building will be a very positive one for the residents, giving them more living space, private bathrooms, air conditioning, close proximity to Social Services (the building is just next door) and a bus stop right on the sidewalk so they can access other services and downtown amenities.
But as we can see by the complaints raised by one longtime resident in a notice of petition filed earlier this month, there's some discontent among residents with the upcoming changes and a lot of misunderstanding and fear about the impacts of the move. For instance, the tenant who filed the petition wanted to know why people couldn't take their furniture and bedding with them to the new place. It's a fair question. He wanted to know about a supposed restriction on personal oxygen tanks that some of them use. Another good question. If one person is confused and upset, then no doubt others are.
The complaints apparently took YMCA officials by surprise. But now that the officials know there are concerns among the tenants, they should take positive steps to address them.
If there's time prior to the move, officials should hold another tenant meeting to answer questions. Tenants also should be provided with updated written materials advising them of their rights and obligations.
Whatever solutions the YMCA folks come up with, allaying residents’ fears and addressing their concerns now will go a long way toward making this transition easier for all.