Homelessness is on the rise and seems unlikely to go away on its own accord no matter how many free apartments or house cars are thrown into the fray. That said, discussions for solving the underlying societal problems are for other venues.
For waste organizations, the issues of public health and safety (H&S) would seem to be fairly straightforward, but are they? The uncertainties of the situation lie in the political arena where questions as to options for dealing with the H&S aspects without impeding efforts for getting to the roots of a situation that politicians have shown a reluctance to address.
Even where homelessness may not appear to be a major concern, the public may still be at risk from unsanitary conditions that were the basis on which waste management systems were founded. So where are we waste management-wise?
Do we view this as someone else’s problem, or are we facing a significant enough H&S challenge to develop effective programs and practices to deal with the situation? If the latter, how do we coordinate our efforts with other agencies and activities, and finally who’s in charge?
Your thoughts on these questions as well as ideas on what you see as our role would be greatly appreciated.