Dallas’ Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) provided an update on its Porta-Potty Initiative during a recent meeting of the Housing and Homelessness Solutions committee, showing that the program was costing Dallas taxpayers 350% more than was estimated.
The Porta-Potty program was started by OHS in February to help mitigate unsanitary conditions in areas of the city taken over by homeless and vagrant encampments. The initial estimate for seven units over 90 days was $4,000.
However, in the memo provided by OHS director Christine Crossley, it turned out that the porta-potty program cost Dallas taxpayers $18,342 for the 90-day pilot — over a 350% increase.
A factor in the increase, according to Director Crossley, is that the original vendor pulled out of the project and “advised they would no longer work with OHS due to security concerns, stemming from working with those experiencing homelessness.”
After OHS sourced a new vendor, United Site Services, it claimed that “the cost of porta-potties had increased” in part because of additional cleaning needs in the units in the face of unsanitary conditions.
Originally, the porta-potties were only to be cleaned three times a week, but now OHS intends to clean the units five times a week.
The pilot program’s results have led OHS to severely adjust its cost estimation. The original proposal claimed that seven porta-potties for a year would cost $23,000. Now, Director Crossley suggests that the program will require $105,726 — an increase of nearly 360%.
Under the new cost estimation, the City will spend roughly $15,000 for each porta-potty.
For comparison, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Dallas is $1,244, according to a report by Apartment List. For a year, the price would be roughly $14,928.
Crossley concluded that “the Porta-Potty Initiative continues as an annually funded program and that additional research into more permanent options at sites needing longer-term support be made.”
A recent poll conducted by The Dallas Express suggested that roughly 27% of Dallas residents considered the increase in homelessness and vagrancy to be a factor significantly contributing to the city’s shrinking population.
Another poll, published by Downtown Dallas Inc., found that 76% of respondents felt that homelessness is a significant issue affecting their perception of downtown Dallas.
Under the initiative, there are currently seven porta-potty locations scattered within the city limits, including ones at 1700 Chestnut St., 2600 Hickory St., 2600 Dawson St., 2710 Gould St., J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center.