The city of Santa Barbara has set up eight portable restrooms for the homeless community in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Housing and Human Services Manager Laura Dubbels said the portable restrooms have been placed at the following locations: the 900 block of State Street by Marshalls, 1200 block of State Street behind McDonald’s, the 400 block of State Street near the 99 Cents Only Stores and Vera Cruz Park, Cabrillo Boulevard near Chase Palm Park, Cabrillo Boulevard by Chase Palm Park, Ninos Drive near Dwight Murphy Park, Sola Street and Micheltorena Street by Alameda Park, 100 block of Castillo Street near Pershing Park and at Cacique Street near the underpass.
“Meeting the needs of our homeless residents is always challenging, and it’s especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City continues to work with the County and our homeless service providers to support this vulnerable population,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said.
Ms. Dubbles added that the portable restrooms went up last Friday. They are being provided by MarBorg Industries. Marborg cleans and empties the restrooms twice a day, seven days a week.
“We worked with 12 different service and outreach providers to come up with the areas that they knew that there’s the most encampments and homeless individuals,” Ms. Dubbels said.
She added that the portable restrooms comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; however, there are no hand-washing stations for the portables.
“Our vendors are out of stock on those, but the county (of Santa Barbara) has already rented some of them quite a few weeks ago on this and so they have some that they’re looking to move to these porta-potties, but that’s kind of on their end right now. I don’t know which ones they are moving and where and all that yet. Pretty hard to get those right now,” Ms. Dubbles said.
On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines for preventing COVID-19 spread among the homeless population. Installing portable restrooms near homeless encampments was one of the recommendations in those guidelines.
“We’re constantly working with our service providers to make sure that whatever their issues are, we try to help with, like food distribution. We just did the Showers of Blessing. So, we’re constantly working with that and getting volunteers, helping with that line as well,” Ms. Dubbels said.
The Showers of Blessing program uses a mobile trailer to provide hot showers to the homeless community. The program will provide showers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Friday at Pershing Park, 100 Castillo St., and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays in the parking lot of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, at 531 E. Ortega St.
“We will do actually whatever comes up that the state and CDC guidance gives us. So we’re working hand-in-hand with the county of Santa Barbara and their public health department, as well, to make sure that we’re doing what is recommended for us to do,” Ms. Dubbels said.
For more information about Showers of Blessing or to donate visit https://showersofblessingiv.org.
For more information about city services related to the coronavirus visit https://www.santabarbaraca.gov. County resources are available at https://publichealthsbc.org.