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Porta Potties Could Benefit Utah's Homeless

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A Salt Lake City council proposal to purchase a portable trailer and toilets could benefit the health of the homeless in the area.

Bill Tibbitts is the Associate Director of the Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake. He says many homeless people come into the center just to use the toilet.

“I think everyone’s had the experience of being in a public place and you need to find a restroom and you have trouble finding one,” he says. “This is a lot harder for people who don’t have a home to go to. Almost nobody actually wants to go to the bathroom outside.”

People relieving themselves outdoors is an especially big problem near the shelters in downtown Salt Lake. The city has already installed two flushable outdoor toilets in the area, but those haven’t been able to handle the needs of the community.

Karla Bartholomew is with the Salt Lake County Health Department. She says extra portable toilets could help solve that problem.

“Where these aren’t permanent plumbed they can take them off site and service them, that might be a benefit,” she says. “If there’s certain activities that are happening in certain areas in the city and they have a higher need for more bathrooms then they might be able to move those instead of being more stationary.”

The one-year trial program with a single trailer and two toilets is estimated to cost about $136,000. Members of the city council were unavailable for comment. It’s unclear if the council will vote to fund the project in the upcoming budget.

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