Pittsburgh Potty: City introduces new outdoor toilets for the homeless

The introduction of Pittsburgh Potties is getting a mixed reception from the public. (SOURCE: WTAE)
Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 12:02 PM CDT
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PITTSBURGH (WTAE) – The presence of new outdoor toilets introduced in Pittsburgh for the homeless has brought mixed feelings from residents.

Some who live and work downtown think the potties hurt the city.

Pittsburgh’s mayor, Ed Gainey, said the toilets are step one in a new direction. He said the toilets will better attract people downtown and keep the local homeless people from using the sidewalk as a toilet.

“We can’t have people just out here going anywhere, so we have to create places for them to go,” he said.

Many who live and work in the city have complained of people going to the bathroom in public.

Kelly Perkovich is an attorney who works in a building downtown that is surrounded by tents.

“I step over on the sidewalk, human feces,” she said. “I’ve seen people peeing on multiple occasions.”

She said the filth is just part of the problem, and the bathrooms only make the homeless population settle in, allowing a space for drug use and other crimes and creating what Perkovic and others in her building call an unsafe place.

Nearby tenants said they don’t blame the homeless population. They blame the city instead for allowing this.

“What we are asking and requesting of the city is that they offer the unhoused a place to go,” Perkovic said. “Alternatively, if they choose not to take that place, they cannot stay here because we are trying to operate businesses.”

Gainey said he is working on a solution but he said the Pittsburgh Potty is the beginning.

“If we’re not finding ways to structure this structure, that community, then we’re just leaving it up to chaos,” he said. “I don’t want chaos. I want structure, part of, part of the potties are to make sure that we have structure.”

While the toilets are just a pilot program right now, the mayor said there will be an additional Pittsburgh Potty along Smithfield by the end of the month.