Pilot program provides portable toilets to San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is launching a test program to provide relief to some of the biggest problems in the Tenderloin neighborhood. Among the problems in the area are human and animal waste, and needles.

The city says this is to help everyone, from kids walking to school, to the homeless who need a place to go to the bathroom. City officials say more than half of the calls that come in requesting that human waste to be cleaned up come from the Tenderloin.

Starting Tuesday, the city will be providing portable toilets and sinks at three locations in the neighborhood from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. when most of the non-profits are closed for the day.

People ABC7 News spoke with in the Tenderloin say there is a definite need for this because the homeless don't have many places to go, but they worry that drug addicts will take advantage of the private facilities.

"Definitely need them, it is hard to find a place to use the restroom down here, but the past just shows us that what they are used for is doing drugs and whatever and they just don't seem to work. The concept doesn't work with the population," Tenderloin maintenance worker Mike French said.

"We'll have someone there all the time whether operational. We hope that can really help. We're going to have posted rules. We know there are going to be challenges. If we have to pivot and do something differently we will. This is a pilot project for six months. We know that there are problems there and we have to do something. We cannot do nothing anymore," Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said.

This pilot program will cost $150,000 and will be solar powered. Officials will try and keep it from becoming a spot for drug use. People will get a five minute courtesy knock after five minutes.

There will be a place to dispose of needles and dog waste inside the facilities.

As for the cost, officials say it costs money to steam clean the sidewalks every day and so they hope this will cut down on the emergency calls for cleanup.
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