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With Building Restrooms Closed, Downtown Council Organizes Relief for Homeless

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

With so many downtown private and public building restrooms closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s practically impossible for homeless people to find a place to relieve themselves with dignity.

That’s why the Downtown Council, along with the City Parks, Public Works and Housing Departments and the Streetcar Authority, have opened 20 portable toilets and cleaning stations around greater downtown to help.

“It’s a basic human right and something that needs to happen to keep the (downtown community improvement) district clean and safe,” said Sean O’Byrne, Downtown Council vice president.

“The city and the other departments signed on to help so no one organization has to bear the brunt of the expenses. That’s not bad for providing dignity to people who wouldn’t otherwise have it.”

It costs about $250 per month to maintain each portable toilet and cleaning station. The Downtown Council has agreed to take responsibility for cleaning all 20 stations with the financial participation of the other organizations.

O’Byrne said the need to introduce portable toilets around downtown became apparent when workers with the Downtown Community Improvement District began finding human waste during their maintenance rounds.

“Our Ambassadors noticed it in talking to people and what they were finding on the street,” he said. “So we identified 20 locations where we knew people are homeless traverse.”

The portable toilet locations are throughout greater downtown:

-Third & Grand – KCATA parking lot
-Fifth & Main – west of City lot
-Oppenstein Park – 12th & Walnut
-12th & I-35 – by parking lot
-Washington Park – Main St.
-Washington Park – Grand Blvd.
-10th & Main – Metropolex
-Library District – 9th & Baltimore
-Eighth & Charlotte – east of viaduct
-11th & Charlotte – northeast corner
-Ilus Davis Mall – Ninth & Oak
-Ilus Davis Mall – 11th & Locust
-Case Park – Eighth & Jefferson
-Case Park – 10th & Kirk Drive
-Sixth & Broadway – southeast corner
-17th & Main – northwest corner
=20th & Grand – northeast corner
-29th & Wyandotte – northwest corner
-18th & Oak – southwest corner
-Oak & 14th St. – northeast corner

The Downtown and River Market CIDs will be financially responsible for seven portable toilets in the CBD and River Market.

“We will distribute a flier to the area’s homeless population, letting them know where toilets are available,” O’Byrne said.

The stations will be open 24/7, and available through May.

O’Byrne added the Kansas City effort has caught the attention of the International Downtown Association and other cities have inquired about adopting a similar program.

“We are on the vanguard and other cities have picked up on it,” he said.

(Editor’s note: CityScene KC is now a paid subscription publication, please consider subscribing.)

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