Business Owners Take Homeless Issue Into Their Own Hands

, Posted: Mon, April 16 2012 at 6:56 PM, Updated: Mon, April 16 2012 at 10:14 PM

After a fire allegedly started by a homeless man in downtown Ashland, and numerous complaints from the community ---

Local business owners are taking Ashland's homeless problem into their own hands.

Business owner and developer Allan Sandler is working with other businesses to find a legal way for the homeless community to live
Ashland safely... and they have some pretty unique ideas.

Finding a positive place for the homeless. "They just want to live their way, without being told what to do. I said do it, but just do it within the law," says Allan Sandler.

The business owner feels for his homeless neighbors... "I've been talking with people in the homeless community. Not to solve the worlds problems, but they want a place to take a bath or spend the night."

Sandler and other businesses are discussing a work-for-housing idea. In which homeless residents would be provided shelter after they provided community service - from yard work to
maintenance. "Everyone puts in a collective effort something good comes out of it, I'm all for it," says Tim Moll, who is currently homeless.

And what's really unique about the thought, is that once underway, Sandler says it will be run by the homeless community themselves.Sandler says, "They're going to manage it themselves, if they fail they fail. it's like if I do a building and fail on it, I lost my money."

And residents say they're behind the potential project. Ashland Resident Heather St. Louis says, "Ithink it's a long time overdue. We have a definite need for it."

Sandler continues, "If we can prove, and help them for the beginning, and prove that they can sustain themselves and become a positive thing for this community than everyone will help. The city will help, everyone... but we have to prove this first." Proving that as we work together we can live together.

Now,  tomorrow, Sandler is meeting with the mayor to discuss the legalities of this idea.

While there are concerns an establishment could attract more homeless, residents we spoke with say the benefit outweighs that risk.

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