According to recent estimates, approximately 550,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness. The root causes of homelessness differ among individuals, but for some, mental health or substance use issues can make finding assistance difficult.
Among large retailers, it’s not uncommon for your closest neighbors to be members of this group, often living in encampments.
For one ALTO member store, a nearby encampment in a vacant lot became a safety and security concern when individuals trespassed onto store property to access water and electricity.
The store managers and employees opened a line of communication with the encampment’s residents, but the groups were not able to come to a resolution.
As reports of drug use and crime in the area increased, store managers took the next step: reporting the issue to local law enforcement. Local officials reviewed the report but were unable to act due to the encampment’s placement on private property.
Later, this issue became an active threat when the property owner was assaulted by members of the encampment as he approached them for a meeting.
At this point, the retailer reached out for help.
The ALTO Alliance Effect
To make a positive impact on the store and community without sacrificing the dignity of the encampment residents, The ALTO Alliance team started by identifying and contacting local support organizations, policymakers, and officials who could provide assistance.
They also established a relationship with the local Public Safety Department, which is responsible for inspections and issuing violations, and the property owners.
Building this Alliance made all the difference.
ALTO coordinated with the city and county officials to visit the site and inspect for violations. When violations were found, they organized a site clean-up.
Before the clean-up was scheduled, the ALTO team worked with community groups to canvas the encampment, offering services and alternative housing options.
These strategies successfully disbanded the encampment, with many residents electing to pursue those resources to break the cycle of homelessness.
The team was able to use effective communication and persistence to find a permanent solution to a complex issue that is much more effective than forcing a relocation to another retailer or neighborhood.
If you are ready to pursue a people-first solution that benefits your business as well as the community, the ALTO Alliance can help.