Businesses in Fort Worth are saying they have experienced more issues with vagrants and people experiencing homelessness as of late.
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce said it has seen a recent increase in incidents with such individuals.
“A lot of our small businesses, particularly retail and restaurant businesses, are telling us that homelessness is having a negative impact on their business,” said Chamber of Commerce president Steven Montgomery, per NBC 5 DFW.
“We noticed an uptick in the responses that homelessness was coming up as a larger and larger issue impacting businesses,” Montgomery continued. “It’s trended up, I would say, over the last several months.”
Montgomery noted that the city’s homeless population is one of the top three issues facing businesses in Fort Worth.
“We’ve had homeless camps set up … in the back of the building,” said Dante Williams, owner of Blank Space, a Fort Worth event venue.
Williams told NBC 5 that he has “been cussed out” and “talked to pretty crazy” by people experiencing homelessness.
He shared security camera footage with the news outlet of men taking lights off of his building and defecating in front of one of his business doors.
Montgomery told NBC 5 that a team from the Chamber of Commerce is gathering data to present to the Fort Worth City Council next year to show that something needs to be done.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, residents similarly say that people experiencing homelessness or engaging in vagrancy are significant issues in their neighborhoods and throughout the city, according to polling conducted by The Dallas Express.
Montgomery added that he does not believe “calling the police to give them a ticket” is the best way to respond.
“Are there investment needs that need to be done in the community in order to address homelessness affordable housing?” Montgomery asked, per NBC 5.
Policy experts have previously told The Dallas Express that “housing first” initiatives are inadequate long-term strategies for solving homelessness.
In San Antonio, the nonprofit Haven for Hope has been credited with a 77% reduction in homelessness through a “one-stop-shop” model in which supportive services such as counseling and job training are provided on the same campus as temporary housing.
The model has polled favorably among Dallasites, and Mayor Johnson even visited Haven’s campus in August. Still, whether the City government will adopt such a model remains to be seen, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.