D.C.’s Downtown Was a Public Bathroom Desert. That Could Soon Change / Published in Citylab

Homeless activists pushed Washington D.C. to pass expansive public restroom legislation. Now the city is moving to increase toilet access for the public.

Over three months in 2014 and 2015,representatives from the Downtown Washington D.C. Public Restroom Initiative visited 85 food and coffee restaurants in the downtown area, and asked one question: Can we use the bathroom? Only 43 businesses said yes, they reported. In 2016, they asked those 43 spots again, and only 28 let them in. By 2017, that number was down to 11 of the 28.

This unofficial survey of five D.C. neighborhoodswas paired with a citywide inventory of public restrooms. These, too,were scarce. Of all the public bathrooms available in the entire city, only two are open 24/7. They’re located in the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, far from pedestrian traffic, and totally unmarked.

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