$300K annually for one bathroom for L.A.'s homeless?

As has already been established, the homelessness problem in Los Angeles has long since reached epidemic levels. Officials estimate that there are currently more than 36,000 displaced individuals living on the streets of the City of Angels. So in addition to people dumping trash all over the streets, there are homeless people literally relieving themselves on the pavement, with growing deposits of excrement constantly needing to be cleaned up and fears of disease rising.

So what’s to be done? The obvious answer is toilets, right? More toilets open to the homeless population should tidy up the situation nicely. But that’s not going to happen any time soon because the City Council has been informed that it will cost more than $300K for each toilet – staffed with a couple of attendants – that they put out on the streets. (L.A. Times)

It seems like an obvious fix to the squalor and stench as homelessness surges on Los Angeles streets: more restrooms.

But L.A. has estimated that staffing and operating a mobile bathroom can cost more than $300,000 annually — a price tag that has galled some politicians. During budget talks this spring, city officials estimated that providing toilets and showers for every homeless encampment in need would cost more than $57 million a year.

“How many single-family homes could you build for that much money?” Councilman Paul Krekorian asked at a hearing at City Hall last month, saying that L.A. had to find a cheaper solution.

This is a real hammer and nails approach to a serious problem that would probably work pretty well if you had an unlimited budget. But the city is already pinching pennies and spending $57M annually on toilets and bathrooms for the homeless encampments is beyond their reach at the moment.

Consider all of the complications involved. Portable facilities need to be emptied on a daily basis and cleaned regularly to tamp down on the spread of disease. Considering where they will be placed and the problems with violence in those areas, each of the bathroom/shower stations have to be manned around the clock. And who are you going to hire to perform that tasty job, and how much would you have to pay someone to do it? It would have to be someone who can handle themselves in a potentially violent situation most likely someone who is armed. (At least with crowd control equipment if not actual firearms.)

You’re basically talking about an entirely new branch of city government devoted to nothing but toilets and showers for the homeless. And if you can figure out a way to manage a budget in the tens of millions to do all this work, not to mention the cost of city personnel to organize and manage the effort, perhaps there’s another way to deal with this. You won’t need to provide thousands of portable bathrooms and showers if you get rid of the homelessness problem driving the need for them.

No, I’m not talking about arresting or shipping out all of the homeless (except possibly the illegal aliens among them). This is Los Angeles we’re talking about here. It’s the home of Hollywood and one of the largest concentrations of wealth in the nation. And yet in the midst of all the luxury and capital, there is a literal army of people who are so destitute that they can’t put a roof over their own heads and they’re defecating in the streets. One of the City Councilmen, Paul Krekorian, asked: “how many single-family homes could you build for $57 million?” It’s a fair question. Given the price of real estate there, I’ll say maybe… two (?) in a lower cost of living part of the city.

But as I said, this is an area that’s home to a vast amount of wealth. How about establishing some larger scale homeless housing shelters, complete with security forces, bathrooms, and all the rest? And if the city can’t come up with the money, perhaps all of those compassionate liberal millionaires in the film industry could kick in to cover the cost. A small percentage of the profits from a couple of summer blockbusters per year could easily do the trick. Or does their money only go to the Democratic Party?