St. Austin Catholic Parish has shown great compassion for the homeless with this simple act of installing a public water fountain outside its church. The city of Austin has a population of about 5,000 homeless people, mostly concentrated in the downtown area. Many of the downtown churches are involved in programs to feed and clothe the homeless and to help them find shelter. However, there is a very basic need that is not being met. There are no public restrooms where these people can relieve themselves. First United Methodist Church, located at 12th and Lavaca streets, is one of the churches participating in providing services for the homeless. Because of this, the homeless collect around our church and the smell of urine is overpowering all around our bulidings. It seems to me that the downtown churches could form a coalition with the city of Austin to find a way to build one or two public restrooms in the downtown area. I can only imagine how degrading it must be for a homeless person to have to relieve themselves in public.
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