why we do it
we exist to fight a simple yet significant issue in charlotte – the lack of access to showers and toilets for those who are homeless and yet-to-be-housed – by putting a mobile shower unit on our streets. why? it’s simple. dignity matters and is a very real desire of every single person.
according to mecklenburg county’s point in time count report, 1,476 people experienced homelessness in mecklenburg county in 2017. fifteen percent identified as unsheltered – meaning they spent the night in their car, a vacant building, camp or bus station, or on the street. access to showers is very limited for those who can’t or choose not to stay in a shelter. additionally, there are only four showers in the city open to those who identify as homeless. the waitlist, however, for a shower can be upwards of a few hours and the hours may not be compatible for those who work during the day. we need more showers with night and weekend service offerings – something we offer. those who can’t access showers may end up washing up in public sinks, outdoor faucets or not at all. as a result, they suffer from alienation and preventable diseases like skin infections, open sores, scabies, lice and staph infection. limited access to regular bathing may exacerbate chronic diseases like hiv or diabetes by posing barriers to treatment adherence, and can pose a public health concern.
hot showers sound good don’t they – after a long day or workout, after a weekend of camping, when you’re sick or cold? the very thought of one is appealing. that’s a benefit we can leverage. the draw of such a basic activity provides us the opportunity to engage with our homeless community. our goal, first and foremost, is to connect with them on a personal level, to acknowledge their existence and restore dignity lost. through this, we’re able to cultivate relationship and from there, discern their greater needs, including housing. that’s why our community partners are key – the relationships we build and conversations we have allow us to work in concert with other agencies serving our homeless community.
we’d be remiss to forget about the many benefits of regular bathing. our neighbors deserve to know what reduced stress feels like, even if it’s only while they’re with us. they deserve to experience improved emotional resilience, higher levels of alertness, self-confidence and improvements in their overall physical health. and let’s be honest with each other, looks matter. we live in a world where appearance is everything. providing increased access to regular bathing opportunities (and shaving for men) can mean the world of difference!