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Letters: The homeless need toilets too

August 07, 2013

Re "The great toilet debate," Aug. 3

Few of the homeless living on downtown L.A.'s skid row are there because they like it. Many suffer from mental illness and others have disabilities that prevent them from working. Skid row is the last refuge for these broken people.

The homeless of skid row have it bad enough; to deny them suitable facilities to take care of their most basic restroom needs violates their civil rights.

Certainly, there are drug addicts and prostitutes who may take advantage of the restrooms, but why punish the majority of skid row residents for the actions of a few?

When you read about the living conditions on skid row, you should remind yourself "There but for the grace of God go I." Without proper toilet facilities, the homeless ask, "Where for the grace of God do I go?"

Allen P. Wilkinson

Laguna Woods

The Times draws attention to the lack of access to basic toilet facilities for skid row's homeless. The Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury, of which I was the foreman in 2012 and 2013, pointed this out in our recent report "LAPD's 'Skid Row' Station."

When we visited there, the officer in charge invited us outside; we encountered human waste surrounding the station. Our recommendation to the city of Los Angeles suggests that the Portland Loo would be an appropriate, cost-effective and safe way to address this need for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Fred Piltz

Los Angeles

I can't speak for skid row, but here in Venice, those who scream loudest about public defecation are often the same people who rail against providing toilets for the homeless.

Why? Because public defecation provides them with their most compelling argument for driving the homeless out. Take that away and it's a lot harder to provoke visceral fear and repugnance.

Isn't that really the logic behind withholding the most basic sanitation facilities where they're most needed?

One Venice man got arrested for providing his own makeshift but fastidiously maintained portajohn after years of the city's failure to address the need. A cynic might say his crime was shaming the city.

David Ewing



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