PVM: The Empathetic Solution For Retailers Dealing with Unhoused Settlers
In high-population areas of the country, it’s not uncommon to find a higher concentration of homeless (unhoused) individuals searching for a safe place to take shelter from the elements. And more often than not, such sites are located on private property, often in front of or around retail stores. While it’s essential to show empathy and understanding towards people fallen on hard times, it is also important to recognize that panhandling and homeless camps stationed outside of a retail store are a surefire way to drive customers away. So, how do we go about finding a humane and empathetic solution to these concerns?
One of the main problems businesses face with people making their homes on their doorstep is an inability to attract and retain customers. For instance, homeless encampments on private property, although seemingly rare, present a major problem for customers being able to (or wanting to) access a store’s front door. With multiple tents linked together, this creates a barrier for prospective customers to cross in order to access the store in the first place, which may discourage them from trying to enter.
Another problem retailers face in these situations is aggressive panhandling and harassment outside of stores. These are especially problematic in urban areas where regular police patrols are no longer standard, as they have a higher potential of occurring repeatedly. One of the major risks presented by aggressive panhandling and harassment is that when these situations do occur, they have a higher chance of escalating, which can cause unnecessary danger to everyone involved, and put businesses in a position where they may be liable for damages or harm to visitors when something goes wrong.
One of the more harmful and damaging aspects of extended loitering on business grounds is disrespect to the building. In locations with significantly higher population densities, such as San Francisco or Los Angeles, this is becoming an increasingly common issue for businesses. When individuals are seen using buildings as bathroom areas, it becomes a quick and effective turn-off for patrons.
Last but not least, the potential for liability issues becomes increasingly likely when people stay on business premises for extended periods. In some cases, settlers may gain access to ladders, dumpsters, and other items that can cause them bodily harm, which presents the possibility of disastrous consequences for the business owner in question if they are found liable for the damages.
PVM: A better alternative
Traditionally, if a business is being negatively affected by loiterers or erratic behavior on store grounds, the authorities would become involved, which presents a higher risk of escalation of otherwise mundane situations, which in turn increases the risk of harm for everyone involved. This can have disastrous consequences for the business in question — for its public image and customer base. In addition, having homeless individuals forcibly removed from the premises by authorities can be considered dehumanizing – and in extreme cases – dangerous. So, what’s the alternative?
With proactive video monitoring, Netwatch operators can voice down to individuals violating the law and offer a more appropriate alternative to camping outside of a retail store, as opposed to threatening to get the authorities involved. By avoiding a confrontation outright, we can keep the loiterers, officers, employees, and customers safe by voicing perpetrators down instead of applying unnecessary force.