PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s biggest city has launched a program to distribute portable toilets in order to reduce cleanup costs and improve public health and hygiene, officials said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed the Hygiene Street Response initiative after receiving numerous complaints about human feces in public places, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday.
Beyond cleanliness, bathrooms are needed to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis A, Wheeler said.
Residents are “concerned about the amount of human feces that we are seeing on our streets, in storefronts, in neighborhoods, in parks,” he said.
The city council voted last month to approve $877,000 during the next fiscal year. At least $615,000 will pay the salaries of attendants to clean the facilities that will initially be placed in high-need areas in downtown and southeast and east Portland, officials said.
The program will deploy six portable toilets and build mobile bathrooms and shower trailers to be given to nonprofit groups serving the homeless population, officials said.
Taxpayers are charged an average of $316 each time a crew is dispatched to clean human waste from the streets.
Disposal of more than 3,300 gallons of waste cost $26,480 over one year, which does not include a $200 per incident dispatch fee and cleaners’ rates of as much as $104 per hour, a city report said.
In 2016, the city paid $216,000 to buy a bungalow with bathrooms, showers and a laundry facility for homeless people, but it was auctioned last year for a $171,000 loss.
“We will not be auctioning these off,” Wheeler said of the new bathrooms. “We will be using them.”