The City of Soldotna will donate a portable shower and restroom facility to the Kenai Peninsula Homelessness Coalition following a vote in favor of the move by Soldotna City Council members Wednesday.
The city purchased the portable restroom and shower trailer for about $182,000 in October 2020 for the purpose of supporting improved hygiene at city parks and campgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen wrote in a Feb. 22 memo to council members. The city bought the trailer using money received through the federal CARES Act program.
Queen said in the same memo that the city was approached by the Kenai Peninsula Homelessness Coalition in February about acquiring the trailer for the purpose of improving the facilities made available to people experiencing homelessness.
The coalition, a 501(c)3 organization, wrote in a Feb. 10 letter to Queen that the group is excited about the opportunity to acquire the trailer and wants to know what steps need to be taken to make the transfer happen.
“We would like to use it to enhance facilities for homeless clients in the Central Peninsula area,” the letter says. “We have looked at it and looked at the paperwork and feel we can put this asset to good use serving our neighbors in need.”
Per Queen’s memo, the trailer is divided into two halves, both of which are equipped with two toilets, a handwashing sink and four individual shower stalls. A drawing of the facility structure created by Allstar Manufacturing shows that it is handicap accessible and about 44 feet long.
“The use of the trailer by this group would be consistent with the initial intended use of this item, and per consultation with the City attorney, donation of the item to the Homelessness Coalition would be allowable for equipment purchased with CARES Act funds,” Queens memo says.
Soldotna Municipal Code allows the city to donate surplus city property to a nonprofit institution. Because the value of the trailer is greater than $25,000, the donation required approval from city council members.
Queen told council members at the body’s March 8 meeting that the trailer is functional and currently being stored at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. The city has floated the idea of putting the trailer on a permanent foundation, such as at a city campground, however, Queen said the cost of doing so is prohibitive.
“We haven’t had a lot of use out of it,” Queen said then of the trailer.
During the same council meeting earlier this month, Jodi Stuart presented a summary of this year’s Project Homeless Connect event, which was held in January at the sports complex. That one-day event is held annually on the Kenai Peninsula and provides dozens of services to people experiencing homelessness.
Stuart told council members that, of the program’s approximately 100 participants this year, roughly one-third reported that their most recent permanent address was in Soldotna.
The council during that meeting was generally supportive of donating the equipment to the homelessness coalition.
Council member Jordan Chilson said during the March 8 meeting that, while it’s unfortunate the city wasn’t able to get more use out of the trailer, the donation is an opportunity to use a piece of equipment paid for by a federal grant to do good in the community.
“We have an opportunity here to put it to use for those that I think most greatly benefit from that,” Chilson said.
Council support was just as strong Wednesday, where the body unanimously approved the resolution formally donating the trailer.
Wednesday’s full meeting of the Soldotna City Council can be streamed on the city’s website at soldotna.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.