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Southside businesses say their dealing with a ‘homeless problem’

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some businesses in the Waites building near UAB are dealing with some undesirable behavior from the homeless population.

The problem getting so bad, a city councilor is getting involved asking Mayor Randall Woodfin for help.

The property manager of the Waites building said this is a very delicate issue because he believes it involves a very specific segment of the population: those dealing with mental health issues.

He said they’ve come up with a temporary solution but feels more needs to be done.

“I met with REV Birmingham and the owner of the Waites and they are having a very bad homeless problem.”

Birmingham City Councilor, Crystal Smitherman, recently explained the growing problem to Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“I don’t think this is your typically homeless problem this is actually where people are coming up and spitting in people’s food, they are fighting management, they are releasing certain things on the outside of the restaurants,” Smitherman explained.

Smitherman said she has police reports from one restaurant and said the city is in danger of losing business.

“Multiple times they come inside and argue with me,” said Owner of Yummefy Restaurant, Sam Pokhrel.

“Sometimes they was drunk speaking very loudly, and he smash my door. A lot of times it’s happened. And also they’re stealing money from the tips jar,” Pokhrel said.

Pokrel said things have gotten better recently thanks to on-site security provided by Retail Specialists, the owner of the Waites building.

“The people we’re dealing with are suffering from mental health issues and we do think it’s from the proximity to the social services of this sector of UAB’s campus,” said Associate & Property Manager for Retail Services, Haden Smith.

“We actually started leading the charge to try to expand the bid district to this portion of the southside, really to the entire southside in general, so that City Action Partnership can begin policing the area and then we also have fulltime armed off-duty police on our site full time,” Smith explained.

Retail Specialists said bringing City Action Partnership into the mix will be the best and most cost-effective solution to this problem.

Right now, Smith said it cost $35 an hour to keep armed security on the premises.

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