Following the successful deployment of mobile laundry trucks two years ago, Bayaud Enterprises, an employment-focused social advocacy group, unveiled a new shower trailer Wednesday at Civic Center Park.
The truck will work in conjunction with the group’s two laundry trucks to help people on the street with hygiene.
“Folks can get their clothes laundered and get themselves clean,” said Lauren Patti, Bayaud’s chief operating officer. “They’ll then be that much more prepared to go job seeking.”
Bayaud focuses on helping people navigate the hurdles of finding a job, and many of their clients are either previously or currently homeless. The idea for both the mobile laundry trucks and the shower trailer came from the group’s Community Participation Advisory, which is made up of Bayaud’s current and former clients. Many of the members of that group said that while many homeless shelters offer showers, they aren’t always available when you need them and they are almost never private.
“The open ones can be kind of dehumanizing,” said Bob Martin, 60, a formerly homeless person who now works full time for Bayaud as a truck operator. “And there is nowhere to put your stuff. While you’re in there you’re probably getting ripped off.”
Martin said that both the mobile shower and laundry services would have made living on the streets much easier for him. Others experiencing homelessness agreed. There was a group of homeless men standing near the shower truck during the ribbon cutting and they all said they’re interested in trying the showers. While Bayaud focuses on the trucks’ potential to help people get ready for job interviews or a job, most of them seemed excited about just getting some privacy.
“I wasn’t in the army or prison so I like private showers,” said one of the men. He declined to give his name.
The mobile shower trailer hooks up to fire hydrants and can provide continuous hot water to the two private stalls. Each stall is fully equipped with toiletries and comes with electric outlets and hair dryers.
Due to limits in the greywater storage, the trailer only has the capacity for eight showers before it needs to be emptied. Martin said Bayaud is looking for a way to make more showers possible and may even explore a continuously open shower truck for the future. Like the laundry truck, the shower truck will be sent to different locations based on a monthly calendar.
Dustin Huffman, 47, said he has been homeless for the last eight years. He likes the idea of the shower truck and would use it, but said transportation is still a major barrier to getting to the showers. Without a bus pass, he said, he’s limited to staying within reach of Civic Center Park and the Salvation Army. When winter comes it becomes even more of a challenge.
“I’m not about all that walking when it’s 20 degrees outside,” he said.