Toilets, Because s#!+ Happens

Los Angeles has self cleaning toilets for the public to use. What this really means is that there are self-cleaning toilets out there that homeless people can use because the general public can use a toilet inside a restaurant or a store that their patronizing has homeless people are often turned away by signs that say for “customers only”.

Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission, and one of my personal heroes, recently stated that there are just 5 self cleaning toilets in use for the homeless.

I did some math, and it breaks down to LAS homeless using the toilets at a ratio of 360 bladders and bowels per toilet. You would almost have to stand in line to use the restroom again as soon as you were done in order to have access to it by the time you needed it again. That is assuming that you only went pee 4 times today. A well hydrated human should be urinating at least 7 times a day. (That last statement was more of a factoid  my father likes to throw around than a scientific fact that I’ve researched, but  I find it to be accurate.)

LA Times article in the toilets from 2013

I have been saying for a long time that Skid Row is not a place or a feeling, it is a smell. It is the fetid putrid smell of human waste period excrement is smeared on the sidewalk and urine stains building walls.

As you drive down the streets you see people hunched between cars with their pants down trying to poop as fast as they possibly can to avoid detection, to be as helpless and exposed for a short amount of time as possible, and to retain as much dignity as possible while doing the most human of bodily functions.
It is unfair that the Mounted Police Officers can take the horses down San Pedro and have the horse’s poop on the street but they will arrest a human who does the same.i have McDonald’s toilet tokens in the cup holder of my car to hand out to people I know who live there.

Yes, there are places like laugh community that runs a public toilets and showers where people can come inside and use the toilet with running water and soap. But the doors closed at night and people need to urinate in the middle of the night. I know so many people who have kept the five gallon buckets by their boxes or 10 because that’s what they had to pee and and in the morning they try to find a gutter to pour it down. In an era where we’re already costing people their health insurance, I don’t think that pouring feces and urine and public places is the wisest of health decisions, now more than ever.



I was taking a walk around my local park today and realized that there are far more open Toilet stalls there than there are the entire downtown area of Los Angeles. Nobody likes being reminded that people are homeless. Nobody likes seeing homeless people. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could see them and treat them with respect. Wouldn’t  it be nice for people to be seen and not smelled?

Homeless Showers

The San Fernando Valley  Rescue Mission and MEND combining  together to bring hygiene and dignity to our neighbors who don’t have access to soap, water and privacy.

#peoplehelpingpeople #mendpoverty 

It is unfortunate when you have an unpleasant body smell. Sometimes they can be avoided, but sometimes they are results of lifestyle choices or financial situations.

Smokers: breath mints in the inside and Fabreeze on the outside (or stop smoking).


Urine leaks : while baby wipes may seem to be the logical answer, a better choice is hand sanitizer. The alcohol kills the bacteria that smells like ammonia. Do NOT apply directly to your sensitive areas…it burns (or so I’ve read…yah, let’s go with that) Instead rub into the fabric facing away from your skin.
On mattresses use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (also good for blood spills… so the next time you have to get blood off of you before the police come, you will be prepared).

Marijuana: be aware that your smell may be a status symbol or matter of pride, or flipping the finger to the public at large, but to me; you stunk like dead skunk facts. So 1. Wash yourself, especially your hair, 2. Put on clothes that you have not smoked in or around.

Underarm alarm: *. Hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol (if you have no open wounds) *. Baby wipes * liquid soap from the public bathroom (I did this once and worried about a stream of bubbles starting to flow down my sleeve that never happened but the worry was real)

Shoes *take Zinc daily and your feet will stop stinking *baby powder in your shoes or socks will absorb the sweat to keep you from stinking

Bad breath: * brush your teeth * gum * chew parlsey* see a dentist

A whole bunch of tears


There is a purposeful lack of tissues in my office – a reminder of absence that I should not make people cry.

However, today I started a flood. A lady going through divorce is afraid to tell supportive agencies that she is homeless and needs help.
She wants to hide homelessness from her child’s father.

Said child is a teen and fully aware of her homelessness.  She is also aware of the impending “D” aka divorce. Mom is so enthralled with her drama that she cannot register the pain if her child.

My conversation went thus:

“You don’t have to be Team Mom or Team Dad. You need only be Captain of Team You.  If you need someone to talk to who isn’t carried away with their own opinions, come back to me. Your friends don’t understand what you are feeling or going through and your grown ups are having their own feelings , so come back to me and I will listen and help you find someone to find you for tutoring and a professional to listen to your heart.”

Homeless children are powerless to change their living situation and ultimately helpless.

She cried because no one had told her that she was allowed to have feelings or an opinion.

Her mother looked stricken.  Poor lady had been unaware of the impact her homelessness and divorce had on the young lady who is her child.

Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General | Homeless in LA ©

Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

National Alliance to End Homelessness: FAQs.

New York Homelessness

The neighborhood of Silverlake in Los Angeles has a community council that is on the ball

The Good Rev Andy Bales of Union Rescue Mission.

I love Andy Bales and there is nothing you can do about it. He is a wee bit intimidating because he is all business and knows his stuff and all the players in the game. I feel very much like the Soccer Mom Social Worker that I am when he is around. However, if you want to know what keeps people down and who the local leaders are that are lifting them up – he is your man.

Mollie Lowrey – You could save 3 lives a day for the next 20 years and still not do as much good for the world as this lady has.

Full discosure, I stalked the skid row agency  ( LAMP) she founded for 6 months before they hired me – I believe in her that much. Her most recent venture is staffed by people who have taught me lasting lessons about homelessness. check them out here


John Best                Celina Alvarez        Gerald Minsk

(John taught me how to speak to people in crisis and understand what homelessness really is)

(Celina has always had it together and taught me to smile at everyone, all the time – also I say “folks” because she does)

(Gerald knows all the ins and outs of Social Security and Disability and other benefits)

(Alicea Polk – one of the nicest and smartest women I ever worked with.)

If you ever have the chance to connect with any of these 3 people, do it! I am very jealous that they all work together without me.

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty  – Read everything they publish

Natalie Profant Komuro Natalie : life changer by day and super model by night? (I am speculating here, we all know it could happen)

Proving you can look like a supermodel and show compassion like a saint  – Glendale California has Natalie. Follow her Twitter @Aanacapa and her lead at the Ascencia agency

Joel John Roberts at ePath

Joel John Roberts, the Pied Piper of my Social Worker friends

Several of my friends and coworkers have gone to work for PATH and have never regretted it.

via Who I Read / Meet / Tweet / Follow to Learn More on Homelessness in General | Homeless in LA ©.

The People on the Offramp

It makes me nervous to see folks standing on the side of the rode, the off-ramp, or intersection asking for money.

I am afraid FOR them, not of them. Hospitalizations are a common occurrence for someone who falls into traffic or doesn’t vacate the roadway fast enough or just wants to be hit by a car to get to a warm hospital bed and be shown human concern and care.

Every part of me wants to throw open the doors of my car and invite them in and take them home with me. Although, as I think about it – I often have homeless or impoverished people staying with me and occasionally have lived in my own living room to give someone else a place to call home. Knowing that does not reduce my concern.

What are your thoughts?

Also – how humbling it must be to stand in public and beg – does it feel like being in the stockade of yore?

Sleeping Out for One Night

I see you on the news coverage of the @roseparade, bundled into sleeping bags and laughing, and complaining about the bitter cold. I hear you laughing and drinking and wondering how you can stand the line for the portable potty.

  • It is fun, it is a lark
  • It is just for the night.

For you.

For you it is just for one night so use this night well. Think about all the people who will be sleeping on the street tomorrow night after you have gone home and are warm and fed again. Think about where they will go when they need to pee because the portable restrooms have been removed and the restaurants are limiting access to customers only.

If you did not have a place to go home to tomorrow afternoon – how would you plot your escape from the streets?

  • Who would take you in?
  • Where will you wash clothes?
  • How will you find work?
  • Where will you store your basic belongings?

The crazy week

Sweet baby Jesus, it is crazy.
As the holidays draw near, the urgency of human need is crashing down on the heads of social workers, homeless shelters, teachers, family law professionals and the like.

Sweet baby Jesus. Did I just say that?

Family get together are on the horizon and people need to have success stories to tell. Stories of employment and financial gain, increased social status either educationally earned or via popularity or merits.

So of course parents who are on cash aid and having good emotional and family issues are feeling the crunch. In turn, we, the people here to help them, are seeing get faces long missing since the slow and lazily warm days of summer.

There may not be enough Diet Coke or coffee in the world to get me through.

Yes. There are many homeless children in Los Angeles.

I can tell that homelessness in children has increased dramatically. I know this because I work with homeless parents and my case load has grown and grown like a weed.

No. There are not enough shelters for families.

Yes, children are sleeping in boxes, on sidewalks, in parking lots, in parks, on kitchen floors, on sofas and all manner of places not fit to house them.

Is it the parent’s fault? No. Yes. And no.

Parents without education because they left school as children will not have the education and skills to hold high earning jobs. Don’t blame the drop-outs:evaluate the schools.

Parents are the CEOs of families. The buck stops with them. But…realistically: what are the pathways out of poverty for them.

Last week a friend accused me of love getting the government system I work inside of. She meant it as an insult, but it didn’t insult me.

Job training
Assistance with job searches
Work experience
Therapy for mental health, substance use and domestic violence
Funding bus passes to get folks to these things
Assisting get with the cost of education

Yep. I love that these are available a day I’m happy to be able to offer them and help people navigate out of poverty.

But as a society, we still hate poor people. We punish them. We look at keeping the minimum wage down and then blame people for not affording housing.
We foreclose so many homes that there are more empty homes than there are individual homeless people. There is a vacant home for every man, woman, and child in the USA.
We don’t make education enjoyable or easy attain
Forget affording higher education .
We give money to the rich and remove tax breaks for middle class and the poor
Our middle class mistakenly sides with the 1% because… I don’t know. Do they think that if we throw money at the über rich that the elite will invite us I to the club and stuff dollars down our shorts?
Child tax credits are about to evaporate
Health care for not super poor and not financially soluble families is unreachable in some states because…why?

I see all of the poverty bashing and hear all the cutting and snide remarks about uneducated, or unemployed, and /or unfocused people and then I read articles where people are shocked that kids are living in the streets.

homeless in the USA
Born Homeless in the USA


Cause and effect, folks.

We need to create jobs.
Return jobs from their outsources homes.
Keep people in school
Offer education to pare ts when their children are in school

Invest back in America.
Or, don’t invest I your neighbor and if you choose that path, stop complain OK great about the increase in number of poor families and individuals.