Framingham's Homeless Issue in the Downtown Area from the Perspective of a Small Business Owner and Resident of Downtown February 3, 2022
Frank Wood
Framingham's Homeless Issue in the Downtown Area from the Perspective of a Small Business Owner and Resident of Downtown:

The homeless population in downtown Framingham has become a hazard to businesses and residents alike. It's unreal how many of them there are panhandling on corners and disrespecting personal space, and how little City of Framingham officials care about getting the issue under control. Unfortunately, due to the growing homeless population fueled by our neighboring towns and cities, downtown Framingham is a nightmare and embarrassment to this city. Many residents of Framingham and surrounding towns have begun going out of their way to avoid the Downtown Framingham area, and this is having a detrimental effect on business owners.

Each time I witness a homeless person yell at another pedestrian, aggressively knock on another car window, or accost my customers or myself, I inform the Police Department. Unfortunately, many of my pleas have been ignored, and a simple "move along" when the police do show up just isn't enough. When I've spoken to these homeless people, and tried to reason with them, many of them threaten me, and aren't shy to disturbing the peace with a handful of expletives. Vaios Theodorakos, the owner of VTT Management, is right in his assessment of downtown Framingham in his Framingham Source article.

The homeless claim they can't find jobs, as written on their cardboard signs, however there are plenty of establishments nearby which are aggressively hiring. When I offer advice to the homeless on where to look for work in order to get their lives back on track, they absolutely refuse it, and articulate that clearly. Many, if not all, of the homeless people in this city are of a capacity to work these available jobs, they just choose not to. Why would they work when all they have to do is walk up and down the street with a cardboard sign and sucker a handful of hardworking people into giving them their hard-earned money? What these hard-working people don't realize is that by giving these homeless people money, they are perpetuating their actions.

The businesses of the area are taking the hardest hits, and are losing customers who don't want to be hassled by the homeless. Study after study has shown that over time, a prominent homeless population will cause a business to lose up to 30% of its customer base. If you want to help the homeless, consider giving your hard-earned money to a homeless shelter or organization which is supporting homeless people who are trying to get their lives in order.

Framingham's best shot at revitalizing downtown is talking about leaving because of one simple thing - the complete lack of any form of a response to this absolutely maddening and absurd homeless problem. If Vaios Theodorakos, the owner of VTT Management, can't get any help from the city either, what hope does anyone else in downtown have? I will simply not take the excuse that the city cannot do anything about it; as I do not see this being an issue for neighboring cities and towns such as Natick, Sudbury, Wayland, and Ashland. In fact, I have heard, via word of mouth from legitimate sources, that neighboring towns drop off their homeless on the Framingham city line, probably with the hopes that SMOC will take them in.

Like VTT, I will most likely be forced to move my business elsewhere because I cannot tolerate the nonstop relentlessness from the homeless. Their constant littering, harassing and accosting customers only scratches the surface of the mayhem they are causing. I know some of you reading this will be upset by this but it's the truth of my experience. I would gander a guess that most of the homeless people I have had to deal with, don't care to rejoin society under any circumstance. This is clear based on the fact that they continue to destroy everything around them with no care whatsoever; happily burdening and costing the small businesses in the area, and negatively impacting the city. And they continually and consistently refuse any and all help from anyone, unless it's spare change from a passing stranger. Should Framingham continue to cater to the homeless people and not the small businesses in this city, there won't be any downtown left. Just scores of vacant buildings and blight. The City's neglect is destroying small businesses, jobs and quite literally the lives of people who are trying to make a living downtown and helping to revitalize it. The longer this situation goes unchecked, the worse it is going to get.

The City of Framingham needs to step up in an unprecedented way to help these small businesses survive the homeless population, after surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. One would think with these small businesses employing Framingham citizens, paying taxes, and keeping the city from becoming an eyesore, that the small business owner would get priority over a group of homeless people who are happy to be criminals.

- A Small Business Owner & Resident from Downtown Framingham Submitted 2/3/2022

P.S. One idea is to have the Framingham endorse a few local organizations which are supporting the rehabilitation of the homeless, and encourage the citizens to do the same. A simple roadside sign, strategically placed on the most frequented panhandling corners, suggesting that passersby donate the money that they would give to a homeless person, instead go to an organization that will directly help them, might be a great place to start.

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