Street Mail: SM. Activist to Fast for 24-Hour Bathrooms (fwd)

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Thu, 4 Dec 1997 20:00:20 -0800 (PST)


fyi  Pat Myers

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Date: Thu, 04 Dec 1997 16:17:12 -0800
From: Street.Mail@att.net
Reply-To: Streetmail@usa.net
To: Street Mail Mailing List <Streetmail@usa.net>
Subject: Street Mail: SM. Activist to Fast for 24-Hour Bathrooms

From=20=93Street Light=94 On Poverty and Homelessness in San Diego.  Vol.1,=
=20
No. 11, Dec. 97

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>Activist to Fast for 24-Hour Bathrooms

     On November 4th, homeless advocate, Larry Milligan made one more=20
plea to the San Diego City Council for public restrooms to be kept=20
open 24 hours.  This would bring City practice in line with its own=20
Comprehensive Homeless Policy voted into effect in 1995. He was=20
referred to the City Manager's office, but since no action has yet=20
been taken, he will begin a fast on Thursday. December 4th at 2 PM=20
outside the public restroom at 3rd and C streets downtown.

     No restrooms are kept open in the parks or central city area=20
overnight. Downtown residents and business owners often complain that=20
homeless people use their property as latrines. but don't realize=20
that there is no place for people to go to the restroom who are kept=20
awake and on the move all night because it is illegal for them to=20
sleep anywhere.

     Milligan has been lobbying for 24-hour restrooms since the early=20
90's when he sponsored a petition signed by 8000 residents asking for=20
restrooms to remain open. When he sat on the City Task Force.  He=20
helped draft the Comprehensive Homeless Policy which includes the=20
paragraph which states, "24-hour public restroom facilities will be=20
made available to the homeless population."

     Milligan handed out copies of their policy to each Council=20
member, asking: "how we can work through this shame and humiliation=20
together. This policy has not been carried out. And hygiene is a very=20
basic, fundamental human right."

     Brian Mahoney, Esq., a member of the Board of Directors of=20
Homeless Advocates of San Diego states. "Back in 1995, the City=20
Council adopted a Comprehensive Homeless Policy that supported 24=20
hour public restroom facilities.  Two years later, this policy has=20
not been put into effect. Actions speak louder than words and the=20
City Council's actions show that they do not care about the=20
fundamental rights of our homeless neighbors. One's need to use a=20
bathroom does not begin at 8 AM and end at 10 PM, which is the time=20
the restroom at 3rd and C is open to the public.

     Arguing that access to public restrooms is a health issue. Dr.=20
Georges M. Argoud, MD, FACP states that "Lack of access to restrooms=20
and the inability of the homeless to wash their hands after using the=20
restroom increases the incidence of gastrointestinal and skin=20
infections and hepatitis. These acute infections associated with=20
vomiting and diarrhea superimposed on preexisting medical conditions=20
in the homeless e.g., malnutrition. result in severe adverse effects=20
often leading to an
emergency room visit and/or hospitalization. The decompensation of an=20
already compromised patient significantly increases the cost of=20
medical care that is shouldered by the County Indigent Program.=20
Arranging availability of 24 hour access to restrooms for the=20
homeless is a humane action that will reduce infections and the cost=20
of medical care in homeless persons.