The bathrooms on wheels that have been making the rounds in Downtown Miami over the last nine months are here to stay. This week Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado announced the $500,000 pilot program aimed at giving the homeless access to public restrooms and making them permanent.
Ken Russell, vice chairman of the Miami city commission and the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, says providing basic services for the homeless is in the best interest of the city.
“What started off as an initiative for the homeless actually has sort of blossomed into a service for the full city, as well as a jobs program for the homeless," he said.
Larry Nunnley is a monitor at one of the program’s portable bathrooms. Nunnley was once homeless himself and says getting a job through the bathroom program helped him get back on his feet. Although the program was designed to help the homeless in downtown, he says the restrooms are not just for those living on the street.
“Police stop here, bus drivers stop here, people from the government building stop here too,” he said.
Construction will begin on the first permanent bathroom next to the Flagler Street Metrorail station in October. Funding will come from Miami-Dade county, the city of Miami, and the Downtown Development Authority.