Month: August 2014

DHOL interviewed in Aljazeera “Everyone Should be able to pee for free with dignity”

Homeless America: ‘Everyone should be able to pee for free with dignity’

UN says 2.5 billion lack toilets globally, and activists say many homeless in the US struggle to find restrooms

More than 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to toilets, the United Nations said Friday, mainly highlighting it as a problem for developing countries. But for many homeless Americans, finding a clean restroom can also be a challenge.

“This, for me, is one of the most drastic and sad examples of the loss of dignity: allowing (people) to practice open defecation,” U.N. deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson told the Guardian in comments that come as the U.N. prepares a new set of international development goals.

Homeless in America
Click for more news on homelessness

In the U.S., homeless-rights advocates say that in most cities it is difficult to find public toilets — making sanitation an issue that homeless people face on a daily basis.

“Everybody should be able to pee for free with dignity regardless of your income,” Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless, told Al Jazeera.

Even if there are public bathrooms, many are not open around the clock, leaving the homeless with no other option but to go in public areas — an act that is criminalized in most cities. Critics say such policies unfairly punish homeless people for life-sustaining actions.

“They often have to rely on bus terminals, train stations and restaurants where they are often kicked out because they are not paying customers,” Stoops said. He added that many shelters are only open at night, leaving the homeless few options for restrooms during the day.

Ray Lyall, the self-described “most homeless” member of nonprofit advocacy organization Denver Homeless Out Loud, said he had recently completed a survey of public toilets in the Colorado city.

“There’s literally 10 restrooms that you can actually use without anybody saying anything to you,” Lyall said. “Most of those are only open during their hours of operation, so there are only two that are open 24/7. And one of those are porta-potties, and they don’t clean them near enough.”

The public toilet report was delivered to Denver’s city council, and Lyall said some of its members have expressed interest in building self-cleaning restrooms that can be accessed at any hour of the day.

“We should have the right to be able to go somewhere, no matter what time of day, and go to the bathroom in a clean place,” Lyall said. “I realize that probably 20 percent of homeless people are drug addicts, but there’s still 80 percent that aren’t.”

Stoops recommends various solutions, including having religious institutions or other organizations that serve the homeless make their facilities available whenever needed. He also said that while many shelters close during the day, there is usually someone on the administrative staff inside.

Restrooms in all businesses should be open to anyone who needs them, Stoops said.

Another possible solution, he said, is to bring back restroom attendants, who were common in the 1950s and 60s. The practice could help keep public facilities clean and safe, and could even give homeless people a source of income.

“Nobody, not even homeless folks, want to have to go to the bathroom in public,” he said.

(Correction: Denver Homeless Out Loud is not a non-profit organization)

Sleep Out for a Home for Art!

Join Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition and Denver Homeless Out Loud by standing and sleeping along side Art Perreault to “prove” he is homeless and demand he be given his rightful housing.

HUD and the VA must stop this senseless re-defining of homelessness which excludes people like Art who are homeless, squatting illegally in a foreclosed home while seeking safer housing, from getting the help and housing they need.

Monday 8/25, 8pm

at 3030 Downing st

Foreclosed On Denver Veteran Finds Foes And Friends In Search For Help From VA



By Darren O’Connor

August 21, 2014

Denver, CO—Art Perreault, like too many Veterans of the modern era, is homeless.  He served his country, worked hard his entire life, and bought into the American dream, only to find himself on the wrong end of a home modification loan.  Health issues ensued, Art’s wife left him, and he was left alone to wage battle to keep the home he had known since 2006.  Despite a valiant effort, Art eventually lost his home.


Art’s story is not entirely unique.  While the number of Veterans identifying as homeless in the Denver metro has decreased over the last 4 years, Veterans still make up an inordinate amount (>13%) of those living on the street.  Therefore, it is significant that President Obama has issued an Executive Directive to end Veteran homelessness, by December 31, 2015.


The directive calls for the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program to serve as the primary tool to eradicate homelessness.  Similar to the HUD Section 8 program, the VASH voucher provides for subsidized rent and supportive services, through case management.


After losing his home, Mr. Perreault turned to the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition (CFRC), an all-volunteer group, for assistance. The CFRC connected with Leanne Wheeler, the Colorado Pathways Home Veteran Advisory Group Co-Chair, herself a former homeless Veteran, to assist Art in accessing his Veteran benefits; to include a VASH voucher.


Ms. Wheeler referred Art to the VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC), where a case manager was assigned and his immediate medical needs were attended to.  However, despite his heart condition, diabetes, requirement for oxygen, multiple strokes, a blood clot in his foot, and his illegally squatting in his former residence, Art was denied VASH voucher eligibility.


(It should be noted that Mr. Perreault was issued a Section 8 voucher two years ago, which he hoped to use to stay in his home.  The mortgage lender – Chase – rejected that proposed arrangement.)


Ms. Wheeler personally accompanied Art to the Denver VA Hospital Homeless Prevention Program, and ultimately connected with the Deputy Director, Michelle Lapidow (a colleague on the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Board of Directors), who denied Art’s eligibility.


Mr. Perrault was contacted the same evening, by a VA employee, who refused to identify herself.  She did, however, advise Art that his denial of eligibility was not based on a true assessment of his need (he was, indeed, eligible), but on the case manager’s perceived slight by Ms. Wheeler making inquiry about his progress higher in the leadership echelon.


The Veterans Administration already faces indictment along this line: retribution, cover up and the like.  In the recent past, these activities have led to the untimely death of Veterans.


This cannot be Art Perreault’s fate.


And if the CFRC and Ms. Wheeler have their way, it will not be the fate of Art Perreault, or any Veteran experiencing homelessness, in Colorado.


Nonprofit programs require Art to literally spend the night on the street (illegal per Denver’s Camping Ban ordinance), or spend one night in a shelter, where he would likely not find a bed, before he is considered homeless.  Therefore, the CFRC, Ms. Wheeler, and other supporters will spend that night on the street with Art, in solidarity.


In doing so,  Art’s supporters wish to highlight the subjectivity and disparity in the VASH voucher eligibility determination, while calling attention to how this process shows deference to one illegal act (sleeping on the street) over another (squatting illegally in a house). The law is one thing, but there is also the fact that there are currently 200 VASH vouchers in Colorado that have not been issued and that are at risk of being lost.


We ask you, the media, to join us on August 25, 2014, at 2200L, directly across the street from the CRRC, at 3030 Downing Street (Denver), to cover this event.  It is our intention to escort Art Perreault to the CRRC, at the open of business on August 262014, to sign the sworn affidavit required of him, to finally be considered homeless.



Darren O’Connor

Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition

Cell: (720)961-3869

Downtown Denver Public Toilet Inventory

Downtown Public Toilet Inventory

Purpose Below is an inventory of those restrooms in the Downtown and Curtis Park areas with some level of public access. It serves the purpose of cataloguing the availability – or lack thereof – of basic personal-care facilities available for people who are homeless. Not a single one of these restrooms meets the criteria of being open 24/7 to all regardless of membership or payment, with water available, and of a standard above that of a porta-potty.

An immediate catalyst for the inventory came when, at the June 4th Meeting, Councilwoman Susan Shepard asked precisely how many public toilets were present downtown. Hopefully, this inventory will answer that question. At the same time, Denver Homelessness Out Loud and other homeless advocacy groups have long pointed to the importance of boosting such resources in the city, and have sought to improve them. The availability of public restrooms is of crucial importance. Currently, urinating outside is an inevitability for people who are homeless, yet it exposes them to police citation and ticketing. What is more, when an individual fails to pay a citation, or appear in court for it, they become subject to arrest. Thus, simply fulfilling a basic human need ultimately results in arrest. This greatly stalls that individual’s ability to extricate her or himself from homelessness. The inventory below was gathered through surveying Downtown on bike. It has been detailed and supplemented with local knowledge of those facilities.

What Does “Accessible to the Public” Mean? When reviewing the inventory, it is important to determine what criteria a facility must meet in order to be truly “accessible” to the “public.” While all of the bathrooms below are open to the general public in some ways, they also pose certain obstacles for use, especially for homeless people.

One problem is the limited hours during which many facilities are open. None of the restrooms listed are open 24/7, without regard to payment or membership. When these facilities close in the evenings and on the weekends, a bottleneck is created regarding available toilets.

Another problem is that many institutions place restrictions on who can use their facilities. The St. Francis, Father Woody’s and Samaritan House locations only provide easy access for their guests. Many recreation centers charge users payment to use their facilities, and may prohibit individuals who appear homeless from using their facilities. The Greyhound Bus toilets are not considered public in any way, since they are available to paying customers only. It is included here only because of a common perception that it is publicly available.

A third problem is the quality of the facilities. Civic Center Park does have porta-potties which are available at all hours, if one does not heed park curfew. Their conditions, however, are subpar, lacking running water, which poses a serious health risk. Skyline Park also has porta-potties available, but only during special occasions and events. It should be noted that not a single one of these restrooms on this list meets the criteria of being open 24/7 to all regardless of membership or payment, with water available, and of a standard above that of a porta-potty.

Next Steps

With the limitations outlined above in mind, city authorities and advocates alike must envision restrooms that truly meet the needs of our whole community – that are clean, free, open twenty four hours a day, and accessible to all. Only by doing so can we hope to break the cycle of petty citation and jailing, empower individuals to lift themselves from homelessness, and meet a basic human need to pee and poop.

How many public restrooms are needed Downtown? In the Point-In-Time survey conducted in January 2014, The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative concluded 3,245 homeless individuals were living in the City and County of Denver (1). This number differs significantly from the 4,905 reported in the 2013 survey (2). This discrepancy does not necessarily reflect a significant decrease in the homeless population due to homeless people finding housing or moving out of denver. For one, it is in part due to the implementation of the Urban Camping Ban, which has forced homeless individuals into more secluded areas away from police officers — as well as those surveying the homeless. It also reflects a change in counting. In 2013, HUD changed it’s definition of homelessness. Those living at friends, in transitional housing, or couch-surfing no longer counted as homeless, but rather “at-risk” of homelessness. Before 2013 they were counted as homeless (indeed living without a home of their own). Both counts are low estimates, given the difficulty in locating every single homeless individual over the course of a single night. In any case it is hard to say with absolute certainty how many homeless people in the City and County of Denver, let alone in Downtown Denver specifically. We estimate a range between 1500 and 3000 people based on available data and anecdotal observation.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for restrooms in the workplace roughly equate to two restrooms for every forty employees (3). At 1,500, the homeless population downtown would require a minimum of 38 restrooms. At 3,000 individuals, 76 restrooms. Note that OSHA defines restrooms (water closets) as necessarily including potable water. Of course, Downtown cannot be considered a “workplace,” but the OSHA calculations are based on sound biological, health and safety needs appropriate for any concentration or population of individuals. Even counting the 25 restrooms listed below, Denver would need to invest in an additional 13 public restrooms at a minimum, notwithstanding the inadequate nature of the already existing facilities, in order to meet the needs of the homeless population downtown.

In Portland one “Portland Loo” (a solar powered toilet and sink) costs $90,000 to purchase and install and $14,400 to maintain it for a year (4). The cost to install and maintain thirteen Portland Loos for a year would equal just under $1.3 million. Based on a higher estimate of the homeless population, and rightfully not counting the the already existing facilities, which as stated above do not meet the standards being truly “public,” the City would need to construct 76 restrooms at just over $7.9 million. Such measures would help homeless individuals meet their basic needs while also alleviating the strain on law enforcement officers who ticket people who are homeless for pooping and peeing in public. What is more, public restrooms would be a resource available to all who live, work, and enjoy Downtown.

Many other solutions exist in addition to the the Portland Loos that address the lack of facilities available for people who are homeless. These include more fully functioning Urban Rest Stops, increases is affordable housing, and measures to employ homeless individuals. More in-depth conversations and analysis are required to decide which combination of solutions will work best for Denver, but delays in pursuing practical projects are inexcusable.


1. 2014, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, “2014 State of Homelessness, City and

County of Denver”

2. 2013, Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, “2013 State of Homelessness, City and

County of Denver”

3. 2013, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Code of Federal Regulations,

Title 29 Labor, § 1910.141 Sanitation.”



4. The City of Portland Oregon, “The Portland Loo.” https://


Glenarm Recreation Center

2800 Glenarm Pl, 80205

(720) 865-3380

Mon/Wed:10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Tue/Thu: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Sun: Closed

20th Street Recreation Center

1011 20th St., 80202

(720) 865-0520

Mon-Thu:6:30 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 6:30 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Sun: Closed

La Alma Recreation Center

1325 W. 11th Ave., 80204

(303) 572-4790

Mon-Thurs:10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Fri: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Sat: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Sun: Closed

Rude Recreation Center

2855 W. Holden Pl., 80204

(720) 865-0570

Mon-Thu:6:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Fri: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Sat: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sun: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Ashland Recreation Center

2475 W Dunkeld Pl, 80211

(720) 865-0510

Mon-Thu:6:00 AM – 8:30 PM

Fri: 11:30 AM – 8:30 PM

Sat: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sun: Closed

Blair-Caldwell Library

2401 Welton St, 80205

(720) 865-2115

Mon: 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wed: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thu/Fri:10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM




Central Public Library

2401 Welton St, 80205

(720) 865-2115

Mon: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Wed:10:00 PM – 6:00 PM

10:00 AM – 6:00 PM


10:00 AM – 6:00 PM



9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

1:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Note: individuals may be banned

from the library

Byers Branch Library

675 Santa Fe Dr.

(720) 865-0160

Mon: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Tue: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wed:10:00 PM – 8:00 PM

10:00 AM – 8:00 PM


10:00 AM – 6:00 PM



9:00 AM – 5:00 PM



Harm Reduction Action Center

733 Santa Fe Dr.

(303) 572-7800

Mon-Fri: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

Denver Inner City Parish

1212 Mariposa St.

(303) 629-0636

Mon-Thurs:9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Fri: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sat-Sun: Closed

Scum of the Earth Church

937 W. 11th Ave

(303) 832-2586

Sunday: 10:00 AM

Denver Rescue Mission

1130 Park Avenue West, 80205

(303) 294-0157

Mon-Sun: 5:30am-8:00pm

Note: Restrooms are not ADA


Salvation Army

2136 Champa St

Denver, CO 80205

(303) 295-3366

Hours unknown.

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Champa Street Location

2111 Champa Street 80205

Mon-Fri: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sat/Sun: Closed

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Stout Street Location

2100 Broadway

Denver, Colorado 80205

(303) 293-3977

Sat/Sun: Closed

Christ’s Body Ministries

850 Lincoln Street Denver, CO 80203


Mon: 12:30 – 3:00PM

Tues-Thu:10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Fri: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Main offices closed


5:30 PM – 7:30 PM


St. Francis

2323 Curtis St


Must fill out form to get

on list to access facilities.

One also may be banned

from using the toilets.

Father Woody’s Haven of Hope

1101 W 7th Ave. 80204

(303) 607-0855

Must fill out form to get

on list to access facilities.

One also may be banned

from using the toilets.

Samaritan House

Address: 2301 Lawrence Street 80205

Phone: (303) 294-0241

Only open to guest living there.

Skyline Park

Arapahoe between 16th and 15th Avenues

Regularly closed for repairs

Civic Center Park

100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy, 80204

Open everyday during park hours, 6am-11pm.

In poor condition, filthy.


Address: 500 16th St. 80202

Phone: (303) 454-9032

Mon-Sat:10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Sun: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Door is not ADA accessible.

Union Station

1701 Wynkoop St.

(303) 534-1012

Open 24/7 once renovated, accessible at discretion of RTD authorities. Intended only for paying

customers and enforced by security guards, and homeless individuals have been regularly asked

to leave the facilities.

Greyhound Bus Station

Open 6:00 AM – 1:00 AM daily.

Available to paying customers only,

enforced by security.