UTICA, N.Y. -- There's a sad and tragic scene unraveling outside the window of Jerry Dischiavo's Oneida Square business.
"Been here 40 years, I haven't seen anything like it," says Dischiavo. Outside his door, a homeless woman sleeps. Around the corner, on Park Ave., three men lean up against a building, about ready to fall over, perhaps under the influence of drugs, or, in a mental health crisis. Business owners in the area say today was mild.
"See people going to the bathroom right out in the open, they're laying there. Some people just stand there with their eyes closed and don't even move," says Oneida Square Business owner, Sal Bosco. "All hours of the night, all over the place, there's certain places, they're just, I don't know what's happening."
Utica's mayor says the pandemic is partly to blame.
"Number of agencies either cut their times, they couldn't see people and a lot of these that were in some type of centers are now not in the centers. They're out," says Mayor Robert Palmieri. "It's a mixture of mental health, mixture of drug addiction, mixture of people who've just lost their way."
Mayor Palmieri met this week with a bunch of agencies that serve these populations. They're working to give some day jobs, like cleaning up litter and painting fire hydrants. He says the problem has to be met on the street, "These agencies can't wait for them to go to their agencies; the agencies have to go out and go to them."