Businesses are getting fed up with problems stemming from homelessness

Businesses are now being asked to contribute funds to help stop this issue. Action News Jax spoke with a developer who says no business should have to pay for a problem they didn’t ask for.

We spoke with a developer who said he’s frustrated with the homeless problem at his place of work. He even had to make some changes to the business for his worker’s safety.

“We have homeless people sleep in our doorway,” Apex Color Account Support Randall Fordham said. “We have more of them when it’s time to open business.”

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This is an everyday task for Randall and his workers at Apex Color in Downtown Lavilla. He goes on to say the building is constantly being littered with garbage.

“They make it their home for the night,” Fordham said. “They leave clothes behind. Here’s a t-shirt they left.”

He even had to put a lock on the building’s fire suppression system to stop people from using it.

“We had to put a lock on this to begin with. They would come over and spin the wheel to take a bath right here,” Fordham said.

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The CEO of Sulzbacher, Cindy Funkhouser, said in a city council meeting Monday that developers should help contribute funds to the homeless issue at their business.

“Homelessness and panhandling are the number one reason why people don’t want to come downtown. If that is your number one barrier as a developer or a downtown business, that is an economic problem for you, and you should be putting your money into solving your problem,” Funkhouser said.

However, Funkhouser does not believe businesses should be using private money to help solve the problems.

“I don’t think it’s a private business’s responsibility to pay for the problems to help keep the homeless off the streets, she said. “We already pay property taxes. I think that should go towards the programs they use.”

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City council members talked about taking four percent of their $35 million general funds that will go towards the homeless trust fund, which comes out to be $1.4 million.

The $1.4 million in funds are part of the five-year strategic plan that will be in effect starting on Dec. 21 of this year.

This all comes as the city is trying to realize how to make downtown more business-friendly.

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