LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to extend a program which provides monitored mobile restrooms throughout the city to serve the growing homeless population.
The council unanimously approved extending the Mobile Pit Stop Program through July of 2019 and add it to three more locations in downtown L.A.
The program, which was first approved in October 2017, currently has portable toilets and handwashing stations in eight locations, including Skid Row and Venice. All eight toilets are monitored by attendants. Five are mobile toilets and three are automatic public toilets.
The three new mobile toilets will be placed at the Pershing Square Metro station, San Julian Park and in front of the Union Rescue Mission.
The extension through the end of July 2019 will put the program’s total cost at around $2.3 million, plus an additional $420,000 to add attendants to three new automatic public toilets.
The funds cover the cost of staffing the locations with attendants and renting the toilets at the mobile locations or other needed equipment.
The program was in response to an outbreak of hepatitis A among the homeless in L.A. and across other parts of California. In September 2017, San Diego declared a public health emergency after 18 people died of the disease.
“Access to safe and sanitary restroom facilities is not just about human necessity, it is about human dignity,” Councilman Jose Huizar said Friday. “The Mobile Pit Stop Program provides a vital service to an underserved and vulnerable population. It has proven successful and must continue.”
Currently, 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.
Last November, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors also approved a plan to install portable toilets near densely populated homeless encampments in four unincorporated areas and along the Los Angeles and San Gabriel riverbeds.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)