Homeless need to go to the bathroom like everyone else
The case for a day center for the homeless can be found all over Manteca. And it’s a case made repeatedly throughout the day and night.
People have to go to the bathroom, including homeless people.
And no one knows that better than those doing business or living in and around the central district or near where the homeless bed down for the night.
It isn’t a problem that’s just come up in the past few years. Nearly 20 years ago, damage was caused to the Manteca Library roof from homeless who went up there to sleep and ended up doing a lot of urinating.
City work crews, downtown merchants, and others know the drill all too well.
Here are just a few examples of what people are up against:
►The homeless often bed down in the narrow space between the PG&E office and Legion Hall in downtown Manteca. They have a nasty habit of using a stairwell for a basement entrance to answer the call of nature leaving feces and urine for veterans to clean up.
►One homeowner on the edge of the central district tired of defecating along their fence line stubbed off a water faucet that the homeless used after taking care of business to wash their hands. The loss of a water source eliminated the spot as an impromptu toilet.
►Merchants on an almost daily basis have to clean up feces and wash down dried urine stains in doorways and outside cubby holes before they can open for business. It is not a problem exclusive to central district business.
►They also will go to the bathroom in bushes along the Tidewater and elsewhere.
Manteca Police community resource officer Mike Kelly has been unlocking the Library Park restrooms for the homeless to use when he is on duty. Other homeless avail themselves of the few public park bathrooms when they are opened during the day such as at Lincoln Park they don’t leave them in the condition they used to leave the Library Park restrooms in. That underscores the point the Library Park restrooms were used as a drug shoot up spot and other anti-social behavior not by the homeless per se but by home grown drug addicts and criminals.
The Manteca Library has restrooms. Homeless also make use of other restroom options, primarily at service stations.
A day center could help address the restroom issue somewhat and other big items such as the need for a resource center, an address needed for the homeless seeking to get a job and get back on their feet need, as well as provide a place where they could store their belongings instead of stashing them around Manteca.
Such a day center should not be in downtown proper nor should it be on Moffat Boulevard given how the school board has decided to expand Manteca High and reorient the front of the campus to Moffat Boulevard.
But it does need to be somewhere within walking distance of where the homeless congregate.
It would help get them off the street during the day where they can be more human, get out of the elements, and hopefully start journeys to get of the streets.
To make things better for everyone, there are realities we all need to accept. Two to start off the list:
►You cannot legally chase the homeless out of Manteca, so everyone that hangs on to that non-starter option needs to let it go. You can, however, reduce the impacts and even the number of homeless by making resources available and continuing the outreach efforts Manteca Police community resource officer Mike Kelly has done to date working with various groups to get almost 150 homeless off the street of which more than 100 have not returned to the streets.
►All people, including the homeless, have to go to the bathroom. It is also safe to assume most homeless aren’t wild about the idea of squatting behind a bush to do it.
That is why the very first step in the next phase of Manteca’s effort to address homeless concerns is to consider placement of portable toilets with hand wash units as well.
Where you place them will be a tough decision but there are some possibilities to mull:
►Behind the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue in a portion of the city parking lot that is not used near the Tidewater Bike Path
►Creating a fenced area where portable units can be placed at the city corporation yard next to the animal shelter.
►Wilson Park located behind the Post Office. The city’s strategy has been to get the homeless to voluntarily use Wilson Park as a de facto homeless park. The use of the park by anyone else has been historically almost nil, except during street fairs and the Pumpkin Fair.
The portables would be routinely serviced by a contractor and not city workers. They are only temporary so if they’re creating and not solving problems they can easily be removed.
It is a stop gap measure until a day center is located in or near the central district. Having the portable toilets won’t attract homeless and others given they are already downtown and in nearby areas doing their thing where they can or please. If it can ease the burden of property owners and address a health issue, then it should be considered.
A homeless person starts getting ready for the night in a stairwell off of a narrow space between the PG&E office and Legion Hall in downtown Manteca.