Already endorsed by the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and the Better Bus Coalition, CincyPHLUSH is the latest regional chapter from PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human), a public toilet advocacy group from the Pacific Northwest. Founded by Jason Haap, Justin Jeffre, and Jacob Haap, CincyPHLUSH made their public announcement at Cincinnati’s only Portland Loo near Paul Brown Stadium.
After introducing the organization, Jason Haap revealed that he suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, like up to 15% of the population at large. “There’s 120,000 people in Hamilton County who have this condition, and it means that when we need to go to the bathroom, we need to go,” explained Haap, “but you don’t need to have a condition to understand how important toilet accessibility is.”
Co-founder Justin Jeffre spoke on why the bus system is a good match for installing more public toilets such as the Portland Loo. “One of the reasons we invited the Better Bus Coalition to be part of this coalition is because … now, with the stimulus money that we have from the federal government, the city and the county have the means to do big things like installing more public restrooms,” explained Jeffre. “We would like to see more public restrooms along our bus routes.”
Jacob Haap, another co-founder and the oldest son of Jason Haap, explored the issue from the perspective of the younger generation. “With young people struggling more and more with debt from student loans and with the rich becoming progressively richer, a dangerous precedent may be on the horizon where basic necessities beyond bathroom access are seen as something an individual has to work for rather than being a basic human right,” he explained. “Basic needs aren’t something you should have to pay for, but rather a necessity.”
That sentiment is at the heart of CincyPHLUSH. We can start to solve this crisis of public toilet accessibility with Portland Loos at Metro transit centers – downtown and in Northside. As Metro hubs, these locations are perfect places for longer-distance bus travelers. Metro also has other key locations that could really benefit riders – think some of the more popular Park-and-Ride locations. A Portland Loo will provide relief if someone has an emergency.
“Emergency” is a keyword here. Think of pregnant mothers, or older people with bladders not as strong as in their younger days. Or, just think of how uncomfortable it can be when you realize you made it through your big jug of water for the day but forgot to use the facilities before leaving work. Let’s stop hiding behind dumpsters, or just past the tree line. Let’s stop turning ourselves into criminals because something happens that no one can prevent!
Josh Spring, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, agreed. “Real cities have public restrooms,” said Spring. “These don’t cost much. The City of Cincinnati spent two million dollars to allow people to eat in the street. Two million dollars to benefit businesses so people can eat in the street, yet we don’t have enough public restrooms. It makes no sense.”
View video of the full press event here: