Woman Creates Mobile Showers for San Francisco's Homeless

A woman in San Francisco wants to make sure homeless people in San Francisco have a chance to get free showers.


According to CBS San Francisco, Lava Mae, founded by Doniece Sandoval, uses old Muni busses converted into mobile showers. This sounds like a really cool idea:

"Each of our buses has two complete bathrooms with a shower, sink, toilet and changing room," said Sandoval. "It's been in idea stage for so long, to actually see the result is unbelievable."

The shower buses will run off city fire hydrants. Lava Mae worked out a deal with the city to use and pay for the water.

The great recession drained the number of city shower facilities from ten to seven, forcing the homeless to put their names on waiting lists just to clean up. Sandoval hopes to fill the gap the city left behind while helping the homeless get back on their feet.

One bus can reportedly accommodate 130 showers a day. It's a great resource that doesn't come cheap—it costs about $75,ooo to convert the buses. Sandoval is also trying to come up with a solution to store the buses overnight (which probably won't be cheap either).

SF Weekly has a breakdown of the timeline for when the first mobile showers will roll out, as well an explanation of how it all works:

The organization will debut its shower-buses June 21 at its headquarters, 3543 18th Street. Following that, showers will be available to the public on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. starting June 28.

On July 22, the nonprofit plans to expand its showering service to Tuesdays and Fridays in partnership with Mother Brown's in the Bayview and Youth With a Mission in the Tenderloin.

Here's how it works: On service days, the buses will pull up to their partner sites, hook up to a fire hydrant, and warm the water heater. Lava Mae's partner organizations will take names of those who are in need or want a shower that day. The buses will allow for two people to shower at a time, in 10-minute sessions.

"With hygiene comes dignity, and with dignity comes opportunity," Sandoval told CBS San Francisco. "So hopefully, it will open other doors for people."


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