- Phoenix is launching a new pilot program that places a single-stall, 24-hour public restroom at a homeless shelter.
- The city will install a restroom from The Portland Loo, which the city of Portland, Oregon, helped design. The standalone steel structure, equipped with LED lighting, was created to help cities and nonprofits provide people experiencing homelessness with access to a public restroom. It includes graffiti-proof walls and open grates that aim to discourage crime.
- “Phoenix is a place of innovation, and this approach could prove to be an excellent solution,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego in an email. “It offers people experiencing homelessness a safe place to take care of themselves and helps reduce the impact on area neighborhoods.”
Cities throughout the U.S. are grappling with a lack of public restroom access that is open 24/7 and available for people experiencing homelessness. Nearly two dozen cities have turned to the Portland Loo, including Philadelphia; Hoboken, New Jersey; Miami; San Diego; Charleston, South Carolina; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Cincinnati and Seattle.
Few public restrooms are available 24 hours throughout Phoenix, according to a December 7 city council report. “The City recognizes the need for safe, accessible public restrooms in areas not currently served throughout the downtown core,” city officials stated in the report.
The unsheltered homeless population in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, increased 34% between 2020 and 2022, according to the annual count of all persons experiencing homelessness on a single day in January.
The cost of the Portland Loo is nearly $150,000, and the city will consider a second installation at another location depending on an evaluation of the program’s success, according to a January 4 city council report.