City council considers mobile bathrooms, 2nd hygiene center to help homeless

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We’re getting more information about plans to install mobile bathrooms and a hygiene center on Oahu.

We first told you about these plans last year. Now, we’ve learned that the Honolulu City Council wants to retrofit two buses, installing two toilets per bus, that could move around the city.

Another hygiene center, similar to Pauahi Hale in Chinatown, is also in the works, and may be located in Iwilei near the Institute for Human Services.

Over on King and Pensacola streets in Honolulu, people in the area say they’re fed up with the mess people are leaving behind. Residents and business owners say people are going to the bathroom on the streets, which is smelly and unsanitary.

“They leave their stool or whatever in the driveway,” said resident Roy Matsumoto.

“They pee and they poo everywhere,” said a business owner who didn’t want to share his name or show his face. He says it’s a recurring problem.

“How does that impact your business?” KHON2 asked.

“Most customers in the morning (or) when they come from lunch, they say this smells terrible,” he replied.

City councilmembers say mobile bathrooms and another hygiene center could help end that problem.

They want to transform two decommissioned buses into mobile bathrooms. The buses would be called Lift, an idea inspired by buses used in San Francisco.

As for a second hygiene station, councilmember Joey Manahan says, “if we provide these types of services, hygiene center services, where people can go and take a shower, go to the bathroom and wash their clothes, then there would be no need for that. It would alleviate the businesses of that problem.”

Iwilei is a proposed site for the hygiene center.

Manahan says $2 million has been budgeted for the plan, design and construction of the Iwilei center and the program costs about $600,000 to run.

When KHON2 asked Manahan if he believes people will use these facilities, he responded, “I think that’s what we are missing.” He says 60 people a day use the showers at the Chinatown station.

It costs $200,000 to retrofit each bus. Councilmember Ann Kobayashi says $400,000 has been put in to convert two buses with two toilets and two showers each.

“In some cities, they hire, actually, homeless people to help be the attendants, and they help each other,” said Kobayashi.

Councilmembers say we could see these in town by the end of the year.

We also reached out to the mayor’s office and were told he supports the idea of mobile bathrooms and is also looking at supporting Manahan’s efforts to build another hygiene station.

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