As Brockton cleans urine, feces off streets, a bathroom may be coming – Enterprise News

BROCKTON – Along with needles and trash scattered around the streets of Brockton’s downtown neighborhood, residents have raised concerns about urine and human feces found on private and public property in the area.

As city staff work to beautify the city and alleviate issues surrounding homelessness and drug addiction downtown, Brockton’s Director of Social Services Jazmine Bradsher said that public bathrooms could become an “option within a few months.”

With no reliable place to use the bathroom, some individuals – like those experiencing homelessness downtown – take to urinating or defecating on private or public land. Bradsher said the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) cleans urine or feces from property regularly to remove any biohazardous threats.

At a meeting for the Brockton Redevelopment Authority on Jan. 25, Bradsher spoke about the city’s various efforts to combat issues in downtown Brockton, including homelessness and keeping the streets clean.

Meanwhile, downtown businesses and residents are feeling the weight of Brockton’s homeless crisis.

“The issue of homelessness has a direct impact to the businesses downtown,” said LaTisha Silvera, co-owner of Brockton Beer Company on Main Street. “It’s impacting our ability to stay in the city, to stay solvent.”

Adding public bathrooms downtown

Bradsher said the city is considering adding a public bathroom downtown, but many factors have to be taken into consideration before they can build one.

The city won’t place a Porta Potty in the area unless it can be bolted down and secured to the ground. Otherwise, the facility could be vandalized or tipped over, causing possible biological contamination problems.

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Plus, an individual could use drugs and overdose inside the Porta Potty and the city wouldn’t be able to get inside.

Bradsher said the facility “wouldn’t necessarily be monitored 24/7.” She said the bathrooms could be paid for by grant money.

The city also plans to add more lighting and cameras to monitor crime and violence.

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Public bathroom desert

Some unhoused citizens stay and sleep under the MBTA Commuter Rail bridges from Court Street to Crescent Street, and the closest of the city’s public restrooms are in Brockton City Hall or the main branch of the Brockton Public Library.

City Hall is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week and closed for the weekend. The library is open from 12 p.m. to 9 pm. on Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the week. It’s closed on Sunday.

With a lack of bathroom options, some people downtown have nowhere to use the restroom other than outside. Adding a public restroom to the area could help the DPW keep the neighborhood clean.

Growing homelessness crisis

Massachusetts state laws block municipalities from removing people from public land, like under Brockton’s bridges, unless there’s an open bed inside a homeless shelter for the individual to relocate to, Bradsher said.

“We as a city do not have enough locations to put them in,” she said.

Officials from Father Bill’s and several people experiencing homelessness said the city’s MainSpring emergency shelter is overcrowded and past capacity. Father Bill’s President John Yazwinski said some guests have to sleep on mats on the floor.

The homeless population in Brockton is growing as more residents from surrounding towns and cities flock to Brockton to utilize its robust shelter and resource network. With limited homeless shelter space, some guests choose to stay on the street, Bradsher said.

Additionally, some individuals may feel unsafe in the shelter due to mental health concerns like PTSD or sexual trauma, and some may feel as though they can better control their environment on their own rather than in a shelter.

For those struggling with substance use disorders, the strict rules prohibiting drugs and alcohol inside MainSpring may turn away individuals who will experience withdrawals without access to treatment.

“It might not be the safest option,” Bradsher said.