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Mobile Bathroom Serves the Public Good

Mobile Bathroom Bus Gives the Homeless A Place to Clean Up and Feel Human

LavaMae repurposed an old city bus outfitted into a mobile bathroom with two shower and toilet modules that “delivers dignity, one shower at a time.”

There are only eight 2 shower facilities in San Francisco that offer public showers.

Mobile Bathroom Bus Delivering Dignity

With only 16 showers available for the 3,500 homeless people in an affluent city like San Francisco, the lack of basic water and sanitation access can seem almost criminal .

LavaMae moves 42 people a day through two showers fed by a fire hydrant and parked at the curb, providing each person a spacious, hand-cleaned-sanitized bathroom in a safe, comfortable environment with dignified service.

Mobile Bathroom Bus uses Public Water, on Public Road to wash the Public

Lava Mae, parks their bus on a public road, washing the public with public water (and donated Dr. Bronner’s soap) running off sudsy into public sewers.

This happened in large part, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the charity arm of Google, Google Impact Challenge.

LavaMae’s founder Doniece Sondaval, envisions a future version featuring LED screens with programmed messages about homelessness to help break down stereotypes around it — as it parks in two different locations for several hours at a time, three times a week.

This mobile bathroom bus announces its presence boldly, painted bright blue.

Ms. Sondaval, witnessed the rapid displacement of neighbors in her neighborhood and decided to do something about it.

Initially financed by a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, Ms. Sondaval wanted to create a beautiful design for a population that always gets castoffs. A mobile bathroom shower facility doesn’t “solve” homelessness, but it’s a proactive response to a dire need.

A mobile bathroom shower facility doesn’t “solve” homelessness

“We call them guests,” says Sandoval when talking about the thousands of people who’ve used the service in its first six months. “We realize that we’re in the hospitality business. We’re trying to get these folks cleaned up, trying to help eliminate the obstacles, if they’re applying for jobs. They’re just trying to stay clean. We want them to feel like we’ve created something just for them, that when they’re here we care about them and that we see them as people. We see lots of regulars so we know their names, know their stories.

“It’s had an impact we didn’t anticipate.”

Yes, yes ... it has. On us too.

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