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Portlanders Waging War on ... Port-a-Potties

Units are meant to benefit the homeless population
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2020 8:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Residents of Portland, Ore., should "take a minute to think about what it would be like to not have working plumbing in their homes … before sending profanity-laden threats." That's the message from Heather Hafer, a public information officer, whose initial excitement at $75,000 per month in federal funds used to place 123 port-a-potties in high-use areas around the city to benefit homeless people has turned to disappointment in her own community. Since the toilets and handwashing stations were installed beginning in April, every one has been damaged, 30 of them beyond repair, reports the Oregonian. One was tipped down a hill. Another was burned. "I thought our community would be proud," says Hafer. Instead, she says she's had to change multiple phone numbers following incessant, angry calls. She adds someone showed up at her house in the middle of the night.

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"If that gets placed here I will throw it in the back of my van and you will never see it again," a homeowner told a team installing a unit on Sept. 16, according to an incident report. The unit did disappear, as did two replacements. During an attempted reinstallation, a man "cut the switch off of the truck so that the unit could not be lowered to the ground." His wife later requested that the unit be removed over fears of "criminal activity." In response, a program coordinator noted almost 90% of complaints were "related to stigma connected to the homeless population." KGW spoke to a resident who questioned the placement of the units in residential neighborhoods where they're mostly used by delivery drivers. But Hafer notes "access to restrooms and proper hygiene is a human right at all times. During a health crisis, it is a life-saving necessity." (Read more Portland, Oregon stories.)

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