Saratoga Springs – Businesses in downtown Saratoga Springs are being asked to fill out a survey about the impact of homelessness and begging on their business.
The ongoing survey by the Downtown Business Association allowed respondents to remain anonymous, but noted that “While you may choose to remain anonymous, please understand that in order to best represent the DBA’s findings, your name, business location and email will be of great help at the conclusion of the investigation. “
The survey asked nine questions, some of which included follow-up questions such as Is Homelessness Affecting Your Employees? Negative or positive? Please provide more details in 3a below.
The survey also allows owners to provide video or photos.
“The objective of the survey is to gather information from the business community and present that information to [the] City Council so we can work together to solve the problem,” DBA vice president Heidi West said in an email.
Members have grown concerned about homelessness, she said.
“The voices of our business community matter and this survey is a tool to ensure that voices are heard,” she said. “The DBA Homeless Task Force was formed in 2021 to address ongoing concerns for our community, businesses and visitors. We partnered with RISE, Saratoga Shelter, Franklin Community Center, Wellspring and others to These organizations are part of the Saratoga County continuum of care, and as partners, we compassionately address issues that may arise with our homeless population.”
In October, City Council heard from many residents who opposed a begging ordinance that would Soliciting is prohibited in all City spaces, including within 20 feet of an ATM; in a parking lot, lot, or station, or on sidewalks adjacent to these areas, or in any area of a public overpass, alley, or tunnel. The council did not vote on the ordinance.
Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino said he currently has no plans to restore them.
Putnam Market owner Catharine Hamilton said she saw the questionnaire but did not accept it. She said they live with homeless people on a daily basis who live in front or behind the parking lot outside their store.
“A few years ago, they were very unruly,” she said. “Right now, even though it’s scary for people who use the car park and aren’t used to it, they tend to stay around the car park.”
She said herself that she greets them when she goes to or leaves her car.
“They knew not to ask me for money because I would never give them money, I treated them like a human being and they were very nice to me,” she said.
She said generally they were fine.
“There were some people who would come in and they would always steal things when they came in, so we would say, ‘Well, you can’t come back here again,'” she said.
She said that while she didn’t experience any problems, they did cause concern for people not used to them or from the area.
“They go into town — some people are afraid to park in the parking lot because they have to walk past a group of sometimes drunk people or tall people asking for money,” she said. “It really affects me in that regard, because we count on the traffic passing by our door, and our homeless people are right outside our back door.”
Hayley Stevens, owner of the Saratoga Tea and Honey Company, said she hadn’t seen the questionnaire but “would gladly take it.”
She said Friday she was too busy to comment further on the topic.
Duane Vaughn, executive director of Shelters of Saratoga, said he hopes the survey will be used to identify ways to help the homeless.
“I talked to the DBAs and they were very helpful to us,” he said. “SOS should be an asset to the community, an asset to the business, so if they need our help, we’re here.”
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