This Bus Is Transforming The Lives Of The Homeless


Most of us have suffered through the frustration of needing to quickly get ready for work, only to have to wait for a roommate to finish his shower. Now imagine having to share that shower with not one or two other people, but hundreds.

That’s precisely the situation facing San Francisco’s estimated6,436homeless residents, who currently have just seven places in the city where they can shower.

Motivated by the belief that everyone has the right to be clean, Doniece Sandoval foundedLavaMae, a non-profit with an innovative idea: take old, unused city buses and retrofit them with fully functioning showers for homeless people to use. Last weekend, LavaMae, a play on the Spanish word for “wash me,” launched its first mobile bus.

“Our buses were designed in consultation with homeless people,” Sandoval told ThinkProgress, a process that has taken over a year.

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The interior of one of LavaMae’s mobile shower buses


For example, many homeless women expressed concern for their safety and privacy while showering. As a result, Sandoval and her team designed two individual shower pods in each bus, one of which is accessible for persons with disabilities.

Each pod includes not only a shower, but also a toilet, sink, and a space to temporarily store one’s things. Each bus will permit around 30 people to shower on a given day. Once all four buses are running, Sandoval estimates they will be able to provide more than 2,000 showers per week. (See more photos of the buses and interiorhere.)

“We’re mobile because we want to reach people where they are,” Sandoval said. In addition, “If we built a brick-and-mortar concept, it would cost a whole lot more.”

The city donated four decommissioned municipal buses to LavaMae and allows the organization to tap into fire hydrants, but retrofitting them with shower pods costs $75,000 per bus.

Funding for the buses comes from a mix of sources. LavaMae raised $58,000 from an Indiegogo campaign, as well as contributions from individuals and small private family foundations. Sandoval and her husband also put a significant amount of their own money into the project.

More at the link.


A few blocks from Twitter’s fancy corporate headquarters, a wheelchair-bound woman sleeps every night on the sidewalk. She is hardly alone.

This is San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, a focal point for the city’s gentrification struggles. It is home to over 6,000 homeless people, who until recently had access to only one working shower head, which was not handicap accessible. Now, a group of passionate people in the Bay Area is using old MUNI buses to bring bathing facilities to this underserved population.

MORE. Google Cash Helps Turn SF’s Buses Into Showers for the Homeless


Abandoned old buses outtakes. I have already shown the “better” photos of these three subjects (you can see them all here), but I post this set on the occasion of / as a tribute to this magnificent text (essay?) / post by my good friend Lambros S. Yes, it’s in Greek - but, still, you can all enjoy the fine selection of photos of old Greek buses illustrating his text. Και οι ελληνόφωνοι… να τσακιστείτε να διαβάσετε και το κείμενο!

Για όποιον ενδιαφέρεται για σχετική βιβλιογραφία, υπάρχει αυτό.

Και για όσους ενδιαφέρονται περισσότερο για τις διαδρομές, παρά για τα ίδια τα σαραβαλάκια, υπάρχει επίσης αυτό το εξαιρετικό Tumblr-blog: thebusflaneur