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Neighbors in SW Portland's Goose Hollow frustrated by repeated vandalism to red portable toilet

The portable toilet is one of dozens placed around the city to help the homeless during the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Goose Hollow neighborhood has been home to Jenn Dooher for about a decade. To say she has loved it would be an understatement.

"We want to raise our family in Goose Hollow," she said. "We want our son to go to [Lincoln High School] one day. But recently we don't know if that's what we want anymore."

Dooher's change of heart is linked to the more than 100 portable toilets and handwashing stations placed around the city for the homeless at the start of the pandemic. One of those red portable toilets was set up outside Dooher's house. She says it has been nothing but problems as she has seen an increase in needles and garbage. 

In August 2020, she said, the portable toilet caught fire. The same thing happened the very next month. It happened a third time this past weekend.

"It had burned down to the point you could see the human feces at the bottom," she said. "This tree had gotten singed. The big concern is not only for the trees but for us as homeowners, our property, our families, our pets, our neighborhood, our city, our state. Everything."

RELATED: Portland spending thousands on signs and repairs for embattled, red port-a-potties

Dooher says she is not lacking empathy for the houseless and what they are going through. In fact, quite the opposite.

"We have fed our homeless who sleep under the tunnel," she said. "We have given them blankets and pillows."

Dooher just believes there is a better way for the city to help than scattering portable toilets and handwashing stations throughout family-friendly neighborhoods.

"I know the city is making efforts to clean the streets and clean up so I'm hopeful this will be a turn and we won't see it again but as it's proven this last year-and-a-half that's not the case."

Case in point, Dooher shot video of crews dropping off a new portable toilet Wednesday evening. She is expecting more of the same.

Credit: Jenn Dooher
A new portable toilet was dropped off in the neighborhood after the third fire.

"We're getting a little salty," she said. "My empathy is weakening as time and time again I'm feeling violated and vandalized and a little unsafe in my own home."

When it comes to the city these frustrations are not coming out of nowhere. At one point the city was on the receiving end of dozens of angry emails about the portable toilets and handwashing stations.

RELATED: 'Dozens of angry emails': Red port-a-potties, meant to help Portland's homeless, spark anger and vandalism

A spokesperson told KGW hygiene access for the homeless is crucial to slowing the spread of diseases. The spokesperson adds that the location of the portable toilets and handwashing stations is based on where the homeless live and where public restrooms are located, among other things.

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