Public Restroom in Downtown Billings? This Oughta Be Good. (Opinion)
A public bathroom with a hand washing station will be set up to run 24 hours a day for the homeless and transient population downtown according to a recent article in the Billings Gazette. Officials believe it will be an alternative to the public restrooms at city hall, the courthouse, or the library, all of which are public restrooms for the public, right? Now, if these three places don't want homeless and transients, why would they want them in the other new public restroom?
Poop on the sidewalk can be a distraction for a downtown district trying to create a festive atmosphere. So are the transients that live there. This will not stop the problem. In fact, I believe giving them a service they need downtown will only add to the problem. Do you think the people that defecate on a sidewalk outside a business are sober? If they're not, they will go anywhere convenient.
These bathrooms will have to be heated in the winter, right? Where do you think people will want to congregate in the cold months if there is a heated building available? This will become a place where people can do drugs and other things I feel that will create even more problems for law enforcement.
I get the compassion. Some people have to try anything to solve Billings' homeless problem, but this won't reduce the homeless problem for downtown. It lends them a hand to continue their way of life here. Laws need to be enforced about public urination, loitering, trespassing, open container laws, intimidation, littering etc. Repeat offenders should be jailed or given a bus ticket. Billings needs to establish a reputation that transient activity will not be tolerated and you either become a productive citizen or leave. If we don't, soon we will become Portland and San Francisco. We should make a serious effort to help people straighten out their lives but they have to want to do it.