Readers React: Why the sticker shock over $339,000 bathrooms for homeless people?

Gaywanell Long, 65, who has been homeless for 35 years, uses the portable toilets for homeless people installed in East Hollywood on June 7.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As reported, providing toilet facilities for the “unsheltered” is insanely expensive, the cost of one toilet exceeding the cost of some houses in other cities and states.

You unwittingly mention two causes for excessive costs: The bathrooms are frequently trashed, and they are centers for illegal activity. This is why many businesses no longer provide what used to be a free service, even to customers. It may be free to the user, but it is extremely expensive to the provider.

Furthermore, this will be a problem when shelter is obtained. If a significant number of people engage in illegal and destructive conduct, when they are finally sheltered instead of being a nuisance to pedestrians they will be a nuisance to neighbors and landlords, as there is no reason to assume that this behavior will cease.

Could some form of “tough love” be an answer?


David Goodwin, Pasadena


To the editor: I’m emotionally exhausted and frustrated after reading two stories in Monday’s Los Angeles Times.

The lead front-page story states that the cost of supplying and monitoring a portable toilet for homeless people is roughly $339,000 a year — and that’s only for 12 hours a day. I’m guessing that a college degree is not necessary for the position of “attendant” of said toilet.


In another piece, columnist George Skelton pleads to end tuition at state universities, claiming that California can afford this simply by siphoning 3% from the general fund.

I guess we can easily find a way to “freely” educate anyone who wants a college degree, but we cannot provide affordable toilets to those in real need. It doesn’t take a college diploma (free or not) to do what’s right.

Tamara Shaw, Moorpark


To the editor: Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian asks how many single-family homes could be built for the $57 million needed for toilets and showers at homeless encampments. The answer is fewer than 100.

An alternative could be subsidized rent for the 36,000 reported homeless people in the city of Los Angeles, on the order of $400 million or so.

The cost for toilets and showers is a bargain. The value of sanitation, not to mention more humane conditions, is priceless.

John Merriam, Altadena


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