Local business owners in Palm Springs are coming together to take on homelessness, which they're calling one of the most serious issues in the city.
The new Business Community Watch group is a coalition of business representatives on the south end of downtown. They're looking to put a stop to crime, drugs and other health safety hazards they say come with the homeless population in this area.
Business owner Judy Anniballi and dozens of others are holding a closed meeting with Palm Springs Police Department Wednesday to discuss steps to move forward.
"Having to show up carrying mace to your own business everyday, just for the 'what-if,' is not the way any of us should have to operate our businesses," Anniballi said.
"We see crack smoking on a daily basis; we see people shooting up on a daily basis," she said. "Other business owners are having to pick up things that no one should have to pick up – human waste, etc."
Anniballi said one of the key factors is mental illness, which has led to some in the area feeling threatened or unsafe.
"They become unfortunately very unhinged very fast and you do not know how they're going to react to you," she said. "We all know that there’s an issue. It’s growing worse."
Earlier this month, the Palm Springs city council voted to purchase a site on McCarthy Road in the north end of the city for nearly $6 million. It's slated to eventually become a homeless navigation center offering wraparound services and transitional housing.
But so far, city manager Justin Clifton said the timeline remains vague on when that project could get on its feet. "There really isn’t a date to be honest," he told News Channel 3 earlier this month.
Aniballi is hoping that by bringing stakeholders together, they can work on immediate improvements to the situation.
"We definitely need a solution now and I think that the can keeps getting kicked down," she said. "If somebody wanted to get something done, it could be done and it doesn't take multi-millions of dollars to make something happen today."