Downtown Knoxville businesses express concerns with homeless

Downtown Knoxville businesses taking concerns with homeless to city leaders

Posted:
The businesses speaking out about the homeless population are along the north side of Gay Street and East Magnolia Avenue. The businesses speaking out about the homeless population are along the north side of Gay Street and East Magnolia Avenue.
One downtown business had to put up 'No Trespassing' signs because some are using its parking lot as a bathroom. One downtown business had to put up 'No Trespassing' signs because some are using its parking lot as a bathroom.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Several downtown businesses say issues with the homeless population are causing problems for their stores and the problems range from vandalism to the homeless using their parking lots as bathrooms. Owners of these stores are taking their concerns to city leaders Thursday.

The businesses speaking out are along the north side of Gay Street and East Magnolia Avenue. The two biggest issues are public safety and the way downtown looks.

Small piles of clothing are often found next to Justin Paulk's downtown business on William Street. He's been there two years and says problems with the homeless have gotten worse.

"Prostitution, vagrancy, a little bit of vandalism nothing really violent per se but just annoying," he said.

Paulk says it's gotten to the point where he's had to put up 'No Trespassing' signs because some are using his parking lot as a bathroom.

"Our kids play out here and we need to have this be a safe and clean spot in the city," added Paulk.

That's why he's taking his concerns to city leaders at of a community meeting Thursday.

"I think it's time for everybody to realize that this is a problem," he said.

Other businesses are joining the conversation. Jack O'Hanlon owns the O'Hanlon Group on Gay Street. He says problems with the homeless aren't hurting business.

"My personal biggest problem is the effect the trash and littering that goes on has on property values on the general condition of the area," O'Hanlon said. 

O'Hanlon plans on addressing solutions at Thursday's meeting.

"I would personally like to see some sort of arrangement for the homeless that if they need bathroom facilities for example they have access to it," he said.

The goal is to find a way to make this neighborhood safe.

"If we can all get together it'll be better than everyone trying to fight on their own," said Paulk.

If you live downtown, you are also invited to attend this community meeting, which will start at 2 p.m. Thursday at Paulk & Co, 510 Williams Street.

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