IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Several business owners on the south side of Iowa City say they have problems with minors loitering and stealing from their stores.
"Mainly it's just kids who don't have somewhere else to go and they're just looking for something to occupy their time," Jordan Paulson said, a manager at Stuff Etc. south of Highway 6.
The South District Neighborhood Association hosted community partners and representatives of local businesses Wednesday night; trying to tackle this issue as a community. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors, Iowa City Police Department, Iowa City School Board and more were all represented at the meeting.
"Having conversations like this definitely helps us," RaQuishia Harrington said, who serves on the nearby North Liberty City Council, but raised her kids in South Iowa City.
There's a high concentration of multi-family and affordable housing developments in the Pepperwood, Wetherby and Grant Wood neighborhoods that the South District encompasses.
Members of the association say the area has gotten an unfair reputation, which has made it harder to solve its problems.
"The negative connotation is always spoken about this area," Harrington said. "It's very unfortunate."
That's why the first thing discussed Wednesday was the specific strengths and challenges youth in the area have.
"I think it's very important that we first empathize," Neighborhood Association Director Angie Jordan said.
Community partners discussed discounts, family nights and getting to know some of the minors causing problems as possible solutions. Management at Planet 3 Trampoline Park south of Highway 6 say they're planning a block party for the community in June.
"Just getting together with other groups, it empowers us to be able to figure out what our issues are," Jordan said.