The Real Change Advocacy Department partnered with University of Washington College of Built Environments faculty to design and install environmentally friendly “street sinks” for people experiencing homelessness. On May 19, workers installed the first of its kind at the ROOTS Young Adult Shelter in the University District.
The Seattle Street Sinks project uses off-the-shelf parts that can connect to a hose on private or public property. The setup drains into a trough of plants so that the water isn’t wasted. The sinks are one new way to open much-needed hand-washing stations throughout the city.
People experiencing homelessness have had difficulty accessing hygiene facilities to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Businesses that might have offered them restrooms are shut down and many public places like libraries and community shelters are, too, although some have reopened to the public. A rented Portland Loo in Ballard Commons park was closed a week in March for a deep cleaning after several people tested positive for hepatitis A, an infectious disease that has been circulating in the Seattle community for more than a year.
Real Change Advocacy has fought for solutions to the problem, which predated the coronavirus pandemic but was exacerbated by it. They ran a successful “Everybody Poos” campaign to secure funding in the Seattle budget for five mobile pit stops: facilities with toilets, sharps containers, dog waste facilities and more. As the pandemic struck, the city sidelined the project, but announced in April that eight new hygiene stations and two hygiene trailers would be deployed.
The new sink prototype outside ROOTS cost around $400 and was up and running within a month of conception.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read more of the May 27 - June 2, 2020 issue.