First, I do not have any solution. [“Halfway Home” by Frank Carlson, Aug. 12, 2010] So if you are looking for one, skip forward.
Second, I have been a business owner in Downtown North for 18 years and here is the “data” as I see it:
I pick up a large trash bag of garbage left by whomever is roaming the streets every day.
I pick up cans, bottles, bedding, “free” food wrappers and containers, clothing, cardboard boxes, diapers (child and adult), towels, backpacks, used toilet paper, luggage, purses, wallets, underwear, rubbers, needles, crack pipes, used lighters, feces, furniture, wheels and oil cans. Even had a dead dog thrown over my fence once.
I have had some form of theft or vandalism on my property every year.
Just outside my business, I have had folks living in their cars for as long as 10 months.
I have bars on all of my doors and windows and still have glass broken three or four times every year.
I have replaced my front door twice.
There is a tent city behind my building with a desk and two chairs.
I have been tagged by graffiti 20 times.
I have to call the police at least four times a year.
I wash human urine, feces, and vomit from the front of my building every other day.
Once a month someone breaches barbed “razor wire” behind my building and fashions a ladder of whatever is there and climbs up on the roof.
I meet my customers in the parking lot and take them inside and subsequently walk them to their cars so that they will not be panhandled or accosted.
I choose to be here, so I am not looking for any sympathy. Rent is reasonable and the location is central to my customer base.
Folks, it has only gotten worse. The crimes are more frequent and more brazen and they are perpetrated by a lot (read as many) more people. Some are really, really bad.
Now, I have 24-hour video surveillance. I have lots of film of hookers, pimps, drunks, thugs, crack-heads, crazies, and a few customers. My front door is kicked several times a night. Hookers preen in my windows. I know what cars the pimps drive (some of the Johns, too).
I run off one or two people from my sidewalk every single day. Many times, it is the same folks. They know that I can’t make them leave, so they come back. I have a couple that is living on my property every night now. They get trashed and sleep and use the bathroom on the side of my building every day. Everything they don’t need for the day is left for me to dispose.
Like I stated earlier, I don’t have a solution. I have great compassion for my fellow man. But, I am negatively impacted by the “street people” every day and at a personal cost of thousands of dollars (that’s not taxes).
This is the real data.