Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association seeks input on homeless, panhandling

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Businesses in downtown Saratoga Springs are being asked to fill out a survey on the effects of homelessness and begging on their businesses.

The survey, being conducted by the Downtown Business Association, allows respondents to remain anonymous but states that “While you may choose to remain anonymous, please understand in order to best represent the DBA’s findings, your name, business location and email would be extremely helpful at the end of the survey.

The survey asked nine questions, some with follow-up questions such as Does Homelessness Affect Your Employees? negative or positive? Please provide more details in 3a below.

Surveys also allows owners to provide videos or photos.

“The goal of the survey is to collect information from the business community and then to present this information [the] City Council, so we can collaboratively address issues,” said Heidi West, vice president of the DBA, in an email.

He said members have grown concerned about the homeless population.

“The voice of our business community is an important one and this survey is a tool to ensure that voice is heard,” she said. “The DBA Homeless Task Force was formed in 2021 to address the ongoing concerns of our community, businesses and visitors. We work in collaboration with RISE, Shelters of Saratoga, Franklin Community Center, Wellspring and other organizations that are a part of the continuum of care in Saratoga County, working compassionately as a partner to address those issues which may arise around our homeless population. ,

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In October the city council heard from several residents who opposed a panhandling ordinance. Prohibited solicitation at various locations in the city including within 20 feet of ATMs; In a parking garage, lot or station or sidewalk adjacent to those areas or in any area of ​​a public skyway, street or tunnel. The council has not voted on the ordinance.

Public Safety Commissioner James Montagino said he currently has no plans to bring it back.

Katherine Hamilton, owner of Putnam Market, said she saw the survey but did not take it. She said they live with the homeless dailies, which are right in front of or behind their store in the parking garage.

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“A few years ago they were very unruly,” she said. “Now, even though it’s scary for people who are using parking garages and not accustomed to it, they love being around parking garages.”

She personally said that she greets him when she is leaving or leaving her vehicle.

“They know not to ask me for money because I will never give it to them and I treat them like human beings and they are very kind to me,” she said.

She said they usually don’t have any problems.

“There are some that come here and always steal. When they come here we’ll say ‘well, you can’t come back here anymore,'” he said.

He said that although he has no problem, he expresses concern for people who are not used to him or the area.

“They come into town — it’s scary for some people to park in the parking garage because they sometimes have to walk through a bunch of people who are drunk or high asking for money,” she said. “In that regard it impresses me because we rely on traffic past our door and our homeless population is right outside our back door.”

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Hayley Stevens, owner of Saratoga Tea & Honey Co., said she hasn’t seen the survey yet, but “would be happy to have it.”

She said on Friday she was too busy to comment further on the subject.

Shelters for Saratoga executive director Duane Vaughn said he hopes to use the survey to determine ways to help the homeless.

“I’ve talked with the DBAs and they’ve been very helpful to us,” he said. “SOS should be an asset to the community, businesses should be an asset, so if they need our help we’re here.”

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