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Turning Buses Into Showers for San Francisco’s Homeless

| September 11, 2013
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A homeless man outside the 16th Street Mission BART station in San Francisco. LavaMae.org is trying to create mobile showering facilities for people who have nowhere to bathe. (Keith Menconi/KQED)

A homeless man outside the 16th Street Mission BART station in San Francisco. LavaMae.org is trying to create mobile showering facilities for people who have nowhere to bathe.(Keith Menconi/KQED)

Chances are you took a shower this morning, or could have if you had wanted to. For most of us, leaving the house for work or school without cleaning up would be pretty much unthinkable. That simple notion — the quiet dignity of feeling clean — is behind a new effort to help the homeless in San Francisco. It’s called Lava Mae, a play on the Spanish word for “wash me”.

The idea is to convert donated city buses into portable bathrooms, with showers, toilets and changing areas. I met Lava Mae’s founder, Doniece Sandoval, inside an old Muni bus like the ones that will soon deliver dignity, one shower at a time. Sandoval is about a third of the way to her fundraising goal of $75,000 through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The Lava Mae campaign has less than a month to go.

Here’s part of my conversation with Doniece Sandoval:

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Category: Health, Human Rights, Poverty Issues, San Francisco

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  • Nathan

    How about instead of providing facilities that will just get abused by the homeless and turn into public eyesores, real money is spent to house the homeless in decent public housing not concentrated into ghettoes, get them off the streets and into social programs that might actually work at reducing recidivism. But no, that would be against the American (lack of) welfare state.

  • Rachelle

    it seems like a good idea, until you consider the fact that the homeless will just wind up turning them into makeshift shelters and, in some cases, using the spaces to do drugs. They’ll become a huge eyesore and another problem for SF. How about we put money and effort into actually trying to solve the homeless issue in SF instead of just giving homeless people more of a reason to stay in their situation?

  • Caroline Ward

    Who will clean the bathrooms?

  • Greta

    There are SO many social programs available in San Francisco. This city is truly a place where people CHOOSE to be homeless. The city pays for their free healthcare and detox programs. Ask the average participate how many times they have participated in detox… you would be lucky if they can even remember. This shower program is a joke. Why not put money into the school systems? How many college prep high schools are in the Bayview? Put that money into sending children to college, those children that would be the FIRST in their family to go. Stop wasting it on people who continue to waste their own lives. Ass backwards bullshit city!!