By Kathy Chouteau
Richmond is among several cities partnering with Contra Costa County to place handwashing stations and portable toilets near homeless encampments in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The Contra Costa County Emergency Operations Center ordered the stations in response to requests for assistance from the cities, which in addition to Richmond, include Antioch, Martinez and Walnut Creek.
Martinez’s Waterfront Amphitheatre received four handwashing stations and portable toilets with attached handwashing stations Tues., April 14—the first of several sanitation equipment deliveries scheduled for the coming days, per Contra Costa Health Services.
Richmond and the other aforementioned cities will receive as many as 10 handwashing or portable toilet stations each. City governments are currently deciding on the placement of the equipment, based on locations frequented by community residents facing homelessness.
“We must work proactively with our homeless population to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to save lives,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “People who lack housing are particularly vulnerable. Without running water, it is very difficult to wash your hands and practice the hygiene needed to reduce your risk of infection.”
According to Contra Costa Health Services, County data indicates that approximately 2,300 people are in need of housing in Contra Costa County. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3) has been distributing sanitation supplies—such as hand sanitizer—to people living outdoors to help improve sanitation at homeless encampments.
In another effort, H3 has secured 450 hotel rooms in the county for temporary use by homeless residents as part of California’s Project Roomkey.
To date, no homeless shelters and service providers in Contra Costa County have reported COVID-19 outbreaks, per Contra Costa Health Services.
For more info on the sanitation stations or COVID-19, click here.