DC Public Restrooms, as can be seen below, had its start in late 2014 responding to a concern expressed by a member of the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC) that DC lacks clean, safe public restrooms accessible to everyone. PFFC’s Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative’s advocacy, consciousness raising and education efforts resulted in the introduction of a Bill in 2017 that became Law in 2019. Now in its early stages of implementation, our focus has shifted to ensuring the successful implementation of the two restroom pilots provided for under the Law. Our membership consists of six individuals deeply committed to this end. We welcome the participation of others.
DC Public Restrooms builds on the successful efforts of the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC) Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative, which was launched in the Fall of 2014 with the objective of ensuring that clean, safe public restrooms are available to everyone in needed areas of Washington DC.
Following a research-based approach (which included a feasibility study, an inventory of restrooms in private facilities in five areas of DC, and studies of experiences with the Community Toilet Scheme in England and with the Portland Loo in the US) PFFC’s Public Restroom Committee developed and carried out a vigorous advocacy campaign designed to raise consciousness of the need for clean, safe public restrooms in DC; who benefits; and restroom options.
Between 2015 and 2020 members of PFFC’s Public Restroom Committee, with the assistance and participation of their advisors, developed and delivered over 70 presentations to DC Council Members and their staffs, representatives in key DC Government Agencies, numerous ANCs and community organizations, churches, BIDs and associations presenting hotel and restaurants interests in DC. They also delivered over 40 testimonies at DC Council Oversight and Budget Hearings.
These efforts resulted in the publication of articles in the Washington Post, the Hill Rag, Street Sense Media, DC Line, DCist, Greater Greater Washington, and aired over radio (Kojo Nnamdi Show and A! which is aired nationally) and a variety of TV stations.
Most importantly they resulted in the presentation by Council Member Nadeau in April 2017 of Bill 22-0223, Public Restroom Facilities Installation and Promotion Act of 2018 whose contents were based on the research findings of the Initiative. Bill 22-0223 was passed unanimously by the DC Council in December 2018, became Law 22-280 in April 2019, and on October 1, 2019 went into effect with funding from DC’s FY 2020 budget.
With Bill 22-0223 passed, Law 22-0223 funded and in effect, and concrete steps taken to prepare for the implementation of both pilots, members of PFFC’s Public Restroom Committee and its advisors decided in November of 2021 that the time was appropriate to form an independent entity, DC Public Restrooms, composed of interested DC residents focused on assisting with the implementation of the two pilots.
Our objective is to assist the Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) as they implement the two restroom pilots provided for under Law 22-280, Public Restroom Facilities Installation and Promotion Act of 2018.
- DGS is responsible for purchasing, installing, and maintaining two standalone public restrooms in areas of DC that meet appropriate criteria for their selection.
- DSLBD is responsible for identifying a Business Investment District (BID) that will be responsible for providing incentives to businesses within their area willing to make their restrooms available to the public.
To this end we will:
- Assist DGS and DSLBD to monitor the implementation of both pilots
- If this is not possible, carry out our own monitoring with the objective of providing timely feedback to both Agencies that will enable them to fine-tune/make needed improvements as both pilots are implemented.
- Keep DC residents informed on the progress of implementation of both pilots.
- As needed, advocate for more funds if needed to implement one or both pilots.
- Continue to raise consciousness among DC government officials and residents of the need for ready access to clean, safe public restrooms in needed areas of the District.
Marcia Bernbaum lives in American University Park, retired from a career overseas with USAID, decided in 2014 to donate her time to collaborating alongside DC’s population experiencing homelessness through the People for Fairness Coalition (PFFC). Since 2014, at the request of fellow PFFC members, she launched PFFC’s Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative, serving as its Mentor and Advisor. She is passionate about the importance of ready access to clean, safe public restrooms for personal and public health. Marcy serves as lead strategist, research coordinator and overall tracker of what is happening, organizing, and letting her colleagues what need to be done.
Kate Coventry lives in Ward 2, near Dupont Circle. Currently Senior Policy Analyst at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Kate joined DCFPI as a Policy Analyst in 2011. Over her career with DCFPI she focused on a range of issues affecting low-income residents of DC, particularly TANF, Interim Disability Assistance (IDA), and homelessness. Kate is a member of DC Public Restrooms because residents experiencing homelessness in particular stand to benefit from restroom expansions. Since 2015 Kate has been providing advice on Council and administration strategies and helping make connections for the group.
Qaadir El Amin
Qaadir was born and raised in DC ,Maryland and Virginia having experienced homelessness for 15 years. He is currently Co-Director of the People for Fairness Coalition which is dedicated to ending homelessness in DC through advocacy, outreach and peer mentoring. Qaadir is an elected member of the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) and an active participant in its Executive Committee. He is committed to ensuring that people who experience homelessness and those who may be facing homelessness receive the education they need so that they don’t fall into homelessness. He is also committed to having homeless residents have access to clean, safe restrooms when they need them, without being discriminated against.
Leonard Greenberger lived in Chevy Chase for 30 years before moving to Maryland. He has provided strategic counsel and communications support for DC Public Restrooms since learning about the organization in 2015. As a grandfather, father and runner he knows well the need for access to safe, clean public restrooms and wants Washington to rival its global peers on this important issue.
Advisor since 2015. Beth is retired. She is an active member of the Dupont Circle Village, a bicyclist, a member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and member of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. Beth’s advice has been and continues to be invaluable.
George Olivar lives in Ward 2, across from Miriam’s Kitchen. He is a founding member of PFFC’s Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative (now DC Public Restrooms). George is a naturalized US citizen, born in Mexico. He became a Buddhist Monk and spent nearly two decades living in monasteries in Asia and Europe. Upon returning to the US in 2014 he found himself unable to live on his pension and became homeless. George appreciates, from his experience living on the streets (he is now housed) how important having ready access to a clean, safe public restroom is for both personal and public health. George has played an important role in identifying DC businesses that provide public access to their restrooms.
Janet Sharp lives in Ward 2 near Thomas Circle and is a founding member of PFFC’s Downtown DC Public Restroom Initiative, now DC Public Restrooms. She firmly believes that there is a necessity for clean, safe bathrooms in DC which are seriously lacking. They are particularly important for seniors as their bladders do not hold. Also for women who are on their period or who are pregnant. Janet has played an important role in designing and delivering presentations to a variety of audiences.