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Palm Springs business owners sound off on homelessness issues plaguing downtown

The Palm Springs police chief and city manager listened intently Wednesday night for a discussion about growing issues with homeless people in the south end of downtown.

Dozens of business owners met at a showroom to express frustration with health and safety hazards around their storefronts including drug use, human feces and mental illness.

"All we want to be able to do is go to work, do our jobs, support our clients, and keep ourselves, our employees and our customers safe," said Judy Anniballi.

While business owners talked about how they can work together to share resources like private security teams, city officials looked to reassure their commitment to addressing the problem.

"We have two officers assigned to this neighborhood almost full time with a sergeant who is patrolling the downtown area," said Palm Springs police chief Andrew Mills.

"We’ve invested in additional security; we’ve expanded some of our partnerships with homeless service providers," said city manager Justin Clifton. "Is it enough? No, and I think its the impetus for meetings like this."

For the long term, city leaders point to purchasing a nearly $6 million site on McCarthy Road in the north end of the city, which is set to become a homeless navigation center with services and housing.

But for some, including business owner Gary Paulson, that's still a long way off.

Tthat’s left to be seen. It could be 2 years before we see any results," he said. "What are we doing now for the issues that are happening on the street? ... (City officials) were receptive to listening to what's going on. We'll see if they want to enact some new policies that will help the town."

Clifton called the problem a "systemic" one, to which there isn't any one solution to fix it overnight.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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