Denver, CO

Fundraiser aims to put portable toilet at homeless holiday party

David Heitz

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A non-profit that throws a Christmas party for people experiencing homelessness is having a fundraiser to pay for a portable toilet at the event.

It seems telling a separate fundraiser would be needed to pay for a portable toilet at the party. People experiencing homelessness say the top challenge they face every day is finding a place to use the restroom.

According to After Hours, which sponsors its annual Christmas in the Park, it will cost $750 to place a portable toilet at Lincoln Park. That’s a $250 increase over 2019.

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This meme asks donors to be a Christmas miracle and help provide a toilet.After Hours

“Will you be our Christmas Miracle?” After Hours asks on its Facebook page. “Do you like to poop? Have I got an opportunity for you. We've created a special designation on our year-end giving page to specially direct funds to make sure everyone has a place to ‘go’ on Christmas Day. Just select ‘A Porta Potty for Christmas’ from the ‘Apply My Donation To’ dropdown on the giving page.”

Non-profit provided portable toilets

For a while, a non-profit called Helping Hands for Dignity Coalition also tried to raise money to pay for portable toilets to be used by Denver’s unhoused. An email sent to the organization seeking more information was not returned.

According to its website, the organization provided multiple portable toilets for people experiencing homelessness. The toilets were kept clean. “Our unhoused neighbors have taken the responsibility of maintenance of our community porta potty very seriously. In between regular contracted servicing, this unit is cleaned and maintained by the residents that use it.“

The organization states on its website it does not understand why Denver has not been forced to provide portable toilets for people experiencing homelessness. “It is our position that unhoused communities should be provided with portable toilets. Human waste is an unavoidable biological process of the human body. Everyone would agree that we are a society that supports proper disposal of human waste.”

Portland, Los Angeles provided portable toilets

Portland, Oregon placed 100 portable toilets throughout the city last year near encampments. “Locations are selected using real-time data about homeless encampments, interviews with people living in encampments, input from city staff, an audit of existing bathroom access and an assessment of human waste in the area,” according to a city news release. “The goal: serving as many people as possible, especially in areas with limited access to bathrooms.”

Los Angeles also fanned public toilets out to serve people experiencing homelessness living in encampments. Almost 200 toilets were added to a previous total of nine restrooms for people experiencing homelessness on Skid Row.

In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times urged the city to keep the toilets in place. But instead, the city has been removing the toilets.

“According to officials, the toilets are regularly broken, covered in graffiti and used for drug deals and prostitution,” the editorial explains. “Hand-washing stations have been damaged, and soap and paper towels have been taken. City officials say they had to replace 175 toilets and 94 hand-washing stations.”

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

Denver, CO
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