In Honolulu: the Dreaded Bathroom Situation

First Published August 31, 2015
Updated May 15, 2020

“feeding the homeless is much easier than providing them with sanitary conditions and services”

All around the world, whether in a developed or developing country, one knows that public restrooms, due to its tendency towards lack of maintenance, should be used only as a last resort. “Only private bathrooms are well maintained,” so the sentiment goes.

However, noticeably since 2015, semi-private restrooms in Honolulu, tend towards having the same quality of bathroom maintenance similar to those of public restrooms. For example, the restrooms at restaurants degenerate into becoming like public toilets. Let us see what the challenges are to maintain semi-private restrooms in Honolulu.

In recent years, any toilet vagrants can get access to can be used for bathing. Therefore, the toilets that they use take more work for the restaurants to keep clean.

When Word Gets Out to the Homeless About Toilet Access

Access to a toilet is a vital necessity; therefore, unofficial news gets out reasonably quickly to the homeless about where a person can get access to a toilet, and it goes something like this:

“The bathroom on the first floor of so and so restaurant is closed, but the one at this other place is unlocked today.”

Anonymous homeless person

When the Homeless Eludes the Staff

In Honolulu, however, restaurants try to deter the use of toilets by non-patrons, specifically, the homeless. For example, the restaurants install keypad locks at the primary doors to their toilets.

Also, restaurants close off its primary or secondary entrances to make it difficult for someone to walk off the streets, run pass the diners and staff, use the restroom, run out, and not be detected.

Despite the above measures that have already become standard by August 31, 2015, vagrants still escape the detection of the restaurant’s wait help and management. Therefore, the above situation becomes onerous to the restaurants and ends up affecting the behaviors of everyone else who wants to enjoy a day around town.

When the Bathroom Situation Affects All of Us

The above was not the case a few years before, but since 2015, you may have heard the following example: when a friend and I planned to meet up somewhere. It goes like this:

“Before you leave your house, because of the homeless problem, make sure to use the bathroom because there are not many toilets to use.”

Evidence from the above examples shows that the homeless try to use toilets in places they are not allowed to use, which ends up affecting the rest of us. So, it comes as no surprise that in the United States, for example, the homeless can get easier access to food than toilets, or feeding the homeless is much easier than providing them with sanitary conditions and services.

Related Link:

What Is It With the People Who End Up on the Streets?


Emy Louie is a “kama’aina/haole” (native/non-native person) who adventures to places on Oahu, Hawai’i, where “kama’aina” do not usually go to, that tourists go to, and vice versa. She lived in Honolulu in the ’70s and ’80s and visits Honolulu annually.

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