LOWELL, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Store owners in downtown Lowell are expressing their frustration with the city's homeless population disrupting their businesses, particularly vagrants with mental health issues.
Alaina Brackett, co-owner of the Purple Carrot Bread Company with her husband Doug, opened the café and bakery on Merrimack Street in 2018. She told WBZ NewsRadio that while the couple survived the COVID-19 pandemic with their business intact, they've faced a persistent problem in aggressive, mentally ill homeless people.
"They did things that really repelled people from coming into my business, so I issued a No Trespass and that doesn’t matter to them," Brackett said. "They just come in, they violate the No Trespass."
Brackett is pointing the finger at the City of Lowell for its lack of effort in addressing the homeless issue.
"The police respond every time. But when I try to see a judge, the judges don’t want to see us. They don’t want these people in the courtroom, it’s a waste of their time," Brackett said.
Brackett believes the state legislature needs to step in and create an ethical, compassionate, and accountable balance to help vagrants and businesses.
"They’re not so mentally ill that they need to be in a locked facility, but they’re not making great decisions, and if they can’t make those decisions for themselves, someone needs to step in ethically and help them," Brackett said.
Not all Lowell business owners agree with Brackett that the onus lies on the state.
"It’s not about the state level," said Jon Pierre Smith, owner of Flip Flop Vintage on Central Street. "It’s about the city needs to step up and stop talking and do some work. Period. And if we keep on talking about it, it’s going to destroy us."
WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports.