Are Homeless Camps an Environmental Hazard?

January 12 2010, 12:27 PM

If life as a homeless person isn't difficult enough, the additional problem of where to go to the bathroom makes things worse. In Colorado Springs, where there are sprawling homeless camps and few public restrooms, Monument and Fountain creeks have become a toilet of sorts, raising concerns about the public health and environmental impacts of human waste. Bob Holmes, executive director of the homeless advocacy group Homeward Pikes Peak, recounts the horrors of the camps to the Gazette: 13 buckets of human waste discovered by a creek, a downed tree nearby serving as a commode, underpasses where walls are both toilets and toilet paper. Janis Heuberger, a local real estate agent, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has sent Colorado Springs City Council members and the Gazette photos. "I think the city needs to disconnect with love and enforce the laws and uphold the laws and let the agencies come up with the conclusions," she says. Citing police estimations, 11News reports at least 500 homeless people live in the Springs, a large number living along the creeks, near trails and parks. One less-draconian idea: portable toilets (via News13).