County formalizes trash bin assistance program for city residentsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledoans who need help getting their trash and recycling bins to the curb now have a formal way to request assistance.
The Solid Waste Accommodation Program (SWAP), announced during a news conference Jan. 20, is a collaboration between Lucas County Commissioners, Republic Services, the Toledo Lucas County Commission on Disabilities and the Department of Justice.
The program is in response to a community need identified by the Toledo Lucas County Commission on Disabilities. It has been reviewed by the Department of Justice and meets all requirements established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It was identified as problem,” said Angelita Cruz Bridges, assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio, U.S. Department of Justice. “Many people with mobility impairment or other disabilities are unable to maneuver the large trash cans to the curb for automated trash removal.”
The announcement expands and formalizes an informal referral program initiated by the City of Toledo with Triad Residential Solutions, a supported living organization for developmentally disabled individuals. The informal arrangement was continued by Republic after the company took over waste collection in the city.
There are currently 121 Toledo residents who work with Triad on customized assistance plans, including help with taking out and bringing in trash cans, said Hillary Moore, adult-based service director with Triad Residential Solutions. Most are elderly; others have disabilities. Short-term and long-term plans are available. Six new people were added just this week, she said.
The work is performed by three minimum-wage employees with developmental disabilities along with their job coach, Moore said.
“It’s a win-win,” Moore said. “They enjoy being out working and the elderly enjoy having them. For all the headache and pain and cost it can be, it’s a great service to the community and it’s good for them to be helping others.”
Although Triad currently provides the service for free and Moore said is happy to help, she’s hoping some funding might be arranged in the future due to the gas and time it takes.
A cost was not provided for the service, but Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the service could be funded up to $25,000 through an amendment to the county’s contract with Republic Services.
Currently the service is provided by Triad at no cost and that’s not expected to change, said Paul Rasmusson, senior area manager for municipal services with Republic Services.
“We’ve left it very wide open because we don’t know if we’re going to get much growth,” Rasmusson said. “When there’s been some exposure in the media prior to this, we’ve seen a few more inquiries, but honestly our numbers have not changed since the day we took over. I didn’t even want to give the commissioners a number. I spoke of a variable and a fixed. Beyond that I don’t want to start charging. Call me in a month.”
Other Lucas County municipalities served by Republic already had a similar contractual agreement, Rasmusson said.
Among those at the news conference were Tim Harrington and Ernie Brancheau, both Toledo Lucas County Commission on Disabilities members who both praised the announcement.
“When the city switched to the container waste disposal program, we were flooded with calls from people who were unable to negotiate the trash cans so that’s what sort of focused us on finding a remedy for those people who weren’t able to move their cans themselves,” said Harrington, who is executive director of The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. “Prior to that, individuals were able to put plastic garbage bags on the curb and have that be picked up or use their own smaller garbage containers.
“It’s a good day,” he added. “A good day for everybody involved.”
Brancheau, who uses a wheelchair, said his neighbor takes his garbage and recycling to the curb and he doesn’t plan to change that arrangement, but wanted to make sure anyone else in Toledo who needs help can get it.
“We needed to make the system more accessible for those with disabilities,” Brancheau said. “Since the city has gone over to new trash cans, those are heavy.”
Brancheau estimated there might be as many as 500 who could use the service.
“Nowadays you have people with disabilities living longer lives because of the medical technology we have,” he said. “We have people out there who don’t have the resources, don’t have the neighbors they can trust or they are too stubborn and don’t want to ask for help. I think it’s going to be a really good service.”
Gerken said the announcement is a “prime example” of public-private partnership plus advocates working together for a cause.
“We have only about 100 residents in Lucas County right now who receive this service; we know there’s more,” Gerken said. “What that number is we don’t know yet. But we know there is more.”
“We were doing it, but we need to do better and we’re poised to do better,” he said. “Today is the victory – with private [entities], public [entities] and advocates all standing together and saying, ‘We’re listening.’”
To request assistance, people should call Republic Services at (419) 936-2511. They will be sent a request form after which a supervisor from Republic will visit their home to determine a customized solution to ensure trash and recyclables get to the curb.
Tags: Angelita Cruz Bridges, Ernie Brancheau, Lucas County Commissioners, Paul Rasmusson, Pete Gerken, Republic Services, Solid Waste Accommodation Program, Tim Harrington, Toledo Lucas County Commission on Disabilities