By Shawnte Passmore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – On the first night of when a census will examine how many unhoused people are in Sacramento County, there are talks of possibly scaling back on a necessity.

Could unhoused people be left with fewer portable restrooms in the county? It says money for the upkeep will run out, but critics say this is a matter of public health.

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“They shouldn’t do it,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. “It’s a public health issue.”

Funding for the additional porta potties began as a COVID-19 response from the state, but it’s unclear when this money would run out, according to Janna Haynes, a county spokesperson for the Dept. of Human Assistance Homeless Initiatives.

At the peak, the county had 50 encampments, but it decreased to 37 stations due to theft and damage.

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Even when the COVID-19 goes away, the county says it has $132,000 which could cover at least 25 of these portable restrooms at encampments. If more are needed, the county and its partners will reassess.

Haynes pointed out county regional parks have 28 permanent restrooms and 45 portable restrooms in service.

It’s a balancing act between providing services for unhoused people and managing the effects of encampments near neighborhoods and businesses.

Erlenbusch is advocating for more portable restrooms and hygiene stations.

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“The bottom line is the board of supervisors can’t have it both ways,” Erlenbusch said.

Shawnte Passmore