Homeless seeking shelter in trash containers | KOB 4

Homeless seeking shelter in trash containers

Meg Hilling
February 19, 2018 05:50 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. -- While New Mexico does not hide the fact that homelessness is an issue, the nighttime hides a secret about it that many people may not know about.


For the Waste Management crew in Farmington, trash isn't the only thing they look for in dark part of the morning. They are looking people as well.

"Whenever I opened the lid, I saw someone laying in there covered. I freaked out because that is not what you expect," swing driver Aaron Montoya said.

In recent years, crews here and across the nation have begun to find homeless folks taking shelter in dumpsters and trash bins.

"You don't want to dump someone and it's not trash you know what I mean," Montoya said.

In order to avoid harming or potentially killing someone by accident, the crew now sends out a pickup truck to scan dumpsters before the garbage trucks arrive every morning.

"Sleeping? passed out? Just wake them up," route manager Robby Ritter said. "If we need to, call the police and let them know, 'Hey, someone on the coach over here. We need to get them up.'"

This morning alarm clock effort appears to be working.

"From when we first started till now, it's a 75 percent difference," Ritter said.  "We have less people in the dumpsters and a lot more of the communities, they see it."

The crew says bags and signs of fires near dumpsters are good indicators as to whether or not someone is inside. But the best way to check they say is pop the lid open.

"It's just a good feeling to know that we are taking such, such a strong approach to reducing incidents and minimizing incidents and hopefully one day eliminating them all together," said Dustin Maxwell, district manager of New Mexico.


Meg Hilling

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