ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) -Pearl Street Diner owners, Anthony and Lucia Mitsios, say panhandling has always been in the area. Recently, though, they have seen a change from people asking for money to confrontations in their diner.
“My family has been in Albany for over 30 years and this is the worst that I have seen it. When it becomes aggressive and people start feeling uncomfortable to come to work, it’s not okay,” explained Anthony Mitsios.
To come up with solutions, the Mitsios family invited fellow business owners and Albany officials to the diner. The Albany police department continues to respond to threats in the area, but are not legally able to offer the services considered ‘quality of life’. Police say they cannot issue an arrest due to homelessness or passive panhandling. “If people feel uncomfortable and they don’t know, then give us a call and we will certainly come out and assess the situation,” stated Albany Police Chief, Eric Hawkins.
Albany’s Common Council President, Corey Ellis, says the public safety commission should be equipped to handle the quality of life issues, not the police department. “Trained in dealing with community issues and also be a go-between for the police department and the community,” said Ellis.
Community organizations such as the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless would step in to help those causing quality of life issues. They say some people experiencing homelessness may already be known in local systems. “We might have relationships with them. They might be known to the outreach community or use our drop-off center,” described a member of IPH.
Even though business owners are looking for immediate change, more meetings will have to take place first. The next date has yet to be announced, but they are hoping more businesses and organizations share their ideas.