The Downtown Saratoga Springs Business Association is seeking information on homelessness and destitution

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Businesses in downtown Saratoga Springs are being asked to fill out a survey about the impact homeless people and scammers have on their business.

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

The survey asks nine questions, some of which include a follow-up question to them, such as Does homelessness affect your employees? Negative or positive? Please provide more details below in 3a.

The survey also allows owners to provide video or photos.

“The purpose of the survey is to gather information from the business community and then present it to [the] City Council so we can collaboratively solve problems,” Heidi West, DBA vice president, said in an email.

She said members’ concerns about the homeless population have grown.

“The voice of our business community is important and this survey is one 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 organizations such as RISE, Shelters of Saratoga, Franklin Community Center, Wellspring, and other organizations that are part of the Saratoga County Continuum of Care as a partner who works compassionately to resolve issues that may arise around our homeless population. “

In October, the City Council heard from many residents who opposed a tolling ordinance that would have prohibited solicitation in various spaces in the city, including within 20 feet of an ATM; in a parking garage, parking lot or station or the sidewalk adjacent to such areas or in any area of ​​a public path, alley or tunnel. The council did not vote on the ordinance.

Public Safety Commissioner James Montanino said there are currently no plans to reinstate it.

Putnam Market owner Kathryn Hamilton said she saw the survey but did not take it. She said they live with the homeless every day who are in front of their store right in front or behind it in the garage.

“A few years ago, they were pretty unruly,” she said. “Now, even though it’s intimidating for people who use the parking lot and aren’t used to it, they tend to stick around the parking lot.”

She personally said that when she goes to or leaves her car, she greets them.

“They know they shouldn’t ask me for money because I’ll never give it to them and I treat them like human beings and they’re very nice to me,” she said.

She said they generally had no problems either.

“There’s a few that would come in here and they always steal when they come in here, so we’d say ‘well, you can’t come back here anymore,'” she said.

She said that while she hasn’t had any problems, they cause concern for people who aren’t used to them or the area.

“They come into town – some people are afraid to park in the garage because they have to walk past a group of people, sometimes drunk or tall people, asking for money,” she said. “In that respect, it really affects me because we rely on traffic past our door, and our homeless population is right outside our back door.”

The owner of Saratoga Tea & Honey Co. Haley Stevens said she hasn’t seen the study yet, but “would love to get it.”

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

Shelters of Saratoga Executive Director Duane Vaughn said he hopes the study will be used to determine ways to help the homeless.

“I’ve had conversations with the DBAs and they’ve been very helpful,” 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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