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Union Square Merchants Try To Stop Homeless From Hanging Around Storefronts

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- San Francisco's Union Square merchants are taking a new approach this holiday season to stop the homeless from hanging around their stores.

Erez Miller says when it comes to homeless people outside his Grant Street store, he's seen it all -- a woman taking her clothes off, bikes getting stolen.

"It's really. really bad," said Miller.

San Francisco spends $165 million every year on the homeless, according to a 2015 report but Miller worries little has changed.

"They're very liberal here, but sometimes liberal doesn't work, and you have to do something, and you have to act," said Miller.

The Union Square Business Improvement District is doing something.

It's called 'Union Square Cares.' It pays for a homeless outreach member to patrol the 27-square block neighborhood in an effort to help connect the homeless with the social services they need.

The organization has also brought in red-coated Union Square ambassadors to hand out fliers to shoppers with the number of a homeless hotline to call if they see a person in need and just don't know what to do.

Alex Kelly lives in San Francisco. He supports the effort.

"It's not all the city's responsibility," he said. "I'm glad the businesses are pitching in and I highly encourage them to do so more."

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