SALEM, OR (KPTV) – Salem is paying for port-a-potties and hand-washing stations at a growing homeless camp in an effort to create more sanitary conditions. The move comes as council members approved an ordinance to regulate camping on sidewalks and public spaces.
ARCHES, a homeless services organization, installed the port-a-potties this week off Union Street Northeast and Commercial Street.
The decision to place the port-a-potties stems from continued sanitary issues, a city spokesperson says, including trash, human feces, and other junk.
Brady Rogers, the administrator for the neighborhood Advancement Division, says he was considering declaring the homeless camp a public nuisance this week, but instead decided to have the city pay for nine toilets and two hand-washing stations. The city has also offered to pay for daily trash pickup.
Rogers says he changed his mind when this week when roughly 1,200 pounds of garbage was cleaned up at the site. ARCHES says that even though the site is not technically its property, they’re responsible for the upkeep around the shelter, and they’ve been trying to keep the area clean.
People living at the site say they try to keep the area clean and welcome the city’s help.
I think it's better than not getting to use the restroom when we need it,” Joshawa Miley said.
Miley says he has to use the bathroom sometimes in the middle of the night.
“I have nowhere to go–I'm sorry, but your front step is better than anywhere else,” Miley said.
The city is paying for the sanitary help through its Blight to Bright Program, which collects money through penalties from dangerous and derelict properties.
The port-a-potties and hand-washing stations are temporary, the city says. The ordinance to regulate camping in public spaces goes into effect Dec. 16. Officers say they will work with social service agencies to enforce it. They say they typically give at least a 24-hour notice for people to move.
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