Federal Way business owners say homeless are hurting their bottom line

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Some local businesses say that problems caused by homelessness have them thinking about leaving Federal Way.

Business owners at Parkway Center at SR 99 and South 336th street say it's so bad, some customers are too scared to visit the area.

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One shop, Dance Collection, has a sign in its window saying the store moved to Tacoma.

The property manager says trouble caused by homelessness in the area isn't the only reason for the move, but it definitely contributed to it.

One storefront is the only one, with a doormat, and that's because it's glued down. All the other ones have been stolen, according to business owners.

Business owners in the area say the trouble really started after the Federal Way Day Center opened in December of 2016, and the problems are worse in the summer.

Businesses in the area say they're experiencing a lot of squatters, break-ins, trash in the area, people prowling around cars, and people openly shooting up drugs while sitting on curbs.

Several properties have installed security cameras, but say the problems have taken a toll, frightening customers and keeping them away.

"They don't' want to park here, they don't want to walk around, that's really critical for all the business owners here,” said Parkway Center property manager Bob Parker.

He says he’s dealt with break-ins, too, and says one morning when he opened the door to the electric room:

“We opened it up and there's one lady, just sitting there half-naked. So, we were shocked,” said Parker.

He says the woman had been living there for three or four days and told him she was doing business there.

“There’s condoms, needles and all other junk stuff before she ran away,” said Parker.

Every business KIRO 7 spoke with in this area says it has experienced the same thing.

A comic and games shop says it has had to start locking its bathrooms to prevent drug users from taking over the space.

And a Filipino food shop says people have broken in several times.

Parker and other shop owners KIRO 7 talked with say they want to help people who are struggling, but say they hope the day center will relocate.

KIRO 7 reporter Deedee Sun talked with a city council member who said the city council and the mayor will work together on creating a homelessness task force to address the issue.

Council member Dini Duclos says federal way needs its businesses, and of course the city does not want shops to leave. She says she wants to make sure people in the business community are also on the task force.