Business owners: Downtown homeless population typically keeps to itself | News

During the week between Christmas and New Years Day in 2020, business owner Dick Nelson remembers the temperature dropping close to zero.

In the breezeway behind 246 E. Main St. in downtown Johnson City, near what used to be Masengill’s Specialty Shop, Nelson found a group of eight to 10 people huddled together in the tunnel for warmth. They were bundled up and preparing to hunker down for the night.

“I was just really troubled by it and worried,” he said.

Nelson asked the group if any would be interested in sleeping downstairs at Nelson Fine Art, the framing store he owns about a block from the breezeway. Only two took him up on the offer.

“If it’s five degrees outside and somebody offers you a warm place to sleep and you say ‘no thanks,’ then that’s kind of significant I think,” Nelson said.

Many of the…

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