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A brilliant way old buses can be used to help the homeless
Homeless people get help cleaning up in retrofitted city buses outfitted with restrooms and showers. - photo by Lane Anderson
Homeless people struggle to get some of the things they need to be healthy: food, shelter and a hot shower.

But soon, homeless people in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can get clean and use the restroom in a mobile "hygiene center" repurposed from a city bus.

The bus would be retrofitted with showers and restrooms, and would cost about $200,000 to outfit and run. State Rep. Stephanie Maez from Albuquerque introduced a bill to allocate money for the project that would serve the city's 1,700 homeless, 10 percent of whom are children, according to the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.

Advocates say in addition to improving the quality of life of its users, it would also help keep the city clean.

Scott Keyes of Think Progress noted that public urination and defecation are continual problems because there are few public bathrooms available, and "bodily functions don't magically cease to exist for homeless people."

"With no bathroom of their own and few public options, the result is entirely expected: People have no choice but to go in public," writes Keyes.

Instead of providing more facilities, many cities throw people in jail, and that is expensive for taxpayers and doesn't solve the problem.

A report from National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that 73 percent of cities reported arrests and citations for public urination and defecation higher than any other offense related to homelessness.

KRQE in Albuquerque interviewed Russell Delorme, a man living in a tent city in the city. He said the lack of sanitation options create a desperate situation.

To be honest with you, Ive seen people go literally anywhere, and I mean anywhere, Delorme said. Literally out in the open, anywhere.

Many try to use a nearby church to use the restroom and wash up.

San Francisco started using a hygiene bus last year, and it was such a hit that another one is in progress. Similar programs have also popped up in Singapore and Brazil.
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