A few months ago, Dante Williams opened his second business in Fort Worth, Blank Space, a space for neighbors to make memories.
“We can have weddings and celebrations here,” Williams said, walking through three adjoining rooms.
But he has also received unwanted attention.
“We’ve had homeless camps set up in places like the back of buildings,” Williams said, adding that people have even taken part of his backyard lawn.
He shared CCTV footage showing three incidents within the past month. One, someone removed a light from the front of his building, then his other light from the back, and early Saturday morning someone defecated in front of his door. That’s what it means.
“I got called names and some pretty crazy things,” Williams added.
He said there have been more incidents in the past month than in the past three years he has been active in the area, but he is not alone.
“Many small businesses, particularly those in the retail and restaurant industries, have told us that homelessness is negatively impacting their business,” said Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Montgomery.
Montgomery said he frequently inspects hundreds of companies.
“We’ve noticed an increase in responses saying that homelessness is emerging as a growing issue impacting businesses, and we’ve seen an upward trend over the past few months,” he said. Stated.
He said this is one of the three biggest problems facing small and medium-sized enterprises in particular.
His team is now compiling that data and presenting it to board and city council members to come up with solutions and get them involved.
“Are there other public policy issues? Are there investment needs that need to be made in the community to address affordable housing for the homeless? Those kinds of things,” he said. .
Williams also wants to see such solutions, especially as co-founder of a nonprofit that works with the homeless community.
“If you call the police and give them a ticket and you don’t figure out how to pay the ticket, you get arrested. We don’t think that’s the right kind of support for the community,” Williams said. .
So that your neighbors will also have the opportunity to make memories.
“We want to build relationships with everyone,” he said.
Montgomery said the chamber plans to present the data to City Council in the new year.