A Los Angeles City Council committee recommended Wednesday that a mobile restroom program be extended for nearly one year and that the city explore the possibility of expanding it to new locations.
The program was approved in late 2017 in reaction to the outbreak of hepatitis A in the city and other parts of the state among the homeless population, as the disease is often spread in unsanitary conditions.
Mobile Pit Stop Program locations have been placed in parts of the city with high concentrations of homeless, including Skid Row and Venice. Seven of the eight portable toilets and hand-washing stations went into operation in March, with the eighth beginning in July. Seven of the locations are open seven days a week for 12 hours during the daytime, while the Venice location is open for eight hours overnight.
A report from the City Administrative Officer cited the program as a success, with many of the sites reporting a significant daily usage increase between the months of March and June. Two of the locations also do needle collection, and as of June 30, had collected over 4,000 needles, according to the report.
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who chairs the committee, credited Councilman Mike Bonin for pushing for the creation of the program. Bonin is also on the committee and introduced the original motion in September that led to the program.
“Props to Mr. Bonin who has been fighting for these types of services and the availability of these services broadly for as long as I can remember, and to hear them come to fruition and done in such a way that we know how many people are actually using the bathroom on a daily basis and what a difference it makes to have a human being there,” Harris-Dawson said. “Again, common sense that’s been validated by data.”
The program was initially funded by the City Council for six months and was set to expire in August, but the Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved an extension through the end of July 2019 for a total cost of $2.239 million. The funds cover the cost of staffing the locations with attendants and renting the toilets and other needed equipment. The committee also added an amendment that directs city staff to explore expanding the program.