CHICO — North State Shelter Team Volunteer President Charles Withuhn says waste and toilet access for homeless people at Comanche Creek Greenway are insufficient despite weekly cleanups.
Charles Withuhn and his team celebrated his 35th week doing cleanups on Nov. 21. Sunday was their 36th week and every Sunday they visit homeless camps at the Comanche Creek Greenway to be in the community and service food and waste.
Withurn said the largest source of trash comes from food packaging.
“It’s hard without a refrigerator. A lot of the stuff you have to eat has to be prepared,” Withuhn said. “That means packaging.”
There are two dumpsters and three portable toilets at the parking lot of Comanche Creek Greenway, but the distance to travel from a camp can be up to a mile away. Withurn said this is the reason why they still need to clean up the creek weekly.
“People aren’t gonna haul their trash a block,” Withuhn said. “We take out two dumpster loads every week. We need two more dumpsters at least by Valine Lane and Meyers Street.”
Withuhn said he and his team collect more than what the dumpsters can handle at around two-dumpsters-full. Withuhn said the dumpster pick up has decreased frequency from three days a week to seven days a week.
Withuhn said the other major problem he witnesses is a lack of sufficient toilet access.
“Theres three for 70 people and they’re all in one location. That’s wrong,” Withuhn said. “That guy over there is walking in his socks on the road. He’s gotta go a city block to get to a porta potty. Do you think he does that every time?”
Among the many people the North State Shelter Team serves are seniors who collect social security but can’t find a place to stay.
“Most of the people I deal with are seniors. Perfectly level-headed, regular, old people that need an apartment, a bedroom.”
Besides clean ups, the North State Shelter Team also donates living supplies and food.
“The lady who makes these bags with a peanut butter jelly sandwich and a napkin got up at 7 o’clock this morning and made 65 of them,” Withuhn said.
The shelter team also built a portable shower trailer featuring two showers, one with ADA access.
“We’ve had 94 showers for individuals over 8 weeks,” Withuhn said.