Home­less need to go to the bath­room like ev­ery­one else

Ripon Bulletin - - Opinion -

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.


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