The Neighborhood Well, a Washington, D.C., faith-based nonprofit, along with a growing team of volunteers, has launched a mobile shower program in Hyattsville, Maryland, to aid the homeless population.
On Saturday, Oct. 9, the mobile shower program unveiled the first two-stall trailer units in the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, located at 6201 Belcrest Road. The program provides shower services and toiletries, targeting areas where unhoused persons have little or no close access to welcoming showers. The program will operate on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.
“A clean shower can restore dignity, build self-esteem and give people who are living on the streets a positive experience,” Camille Adebayo, executive secretary of The Neighborhood Well, said.
“Taking a refreshing shower is a necessity that we take for granted. Some shelters aren’t accessible for unhoused people, so we want to provide an avenue for people to have access to their basic needs and health,” she continued.
The newly placed shower trailer contains two built-in private and secure bathrooms, consisting of a shower, toilet and sink. The private bathroom comes complete with a clean towel, washcloth and other toiletries needed to bathe.
One of the most vital assets to the program’s success is the community volunteers.
“Following a COVID-19 protocol, The Neighborhood Well volunteers will clean the showers, using cleaning solutions to ensure a safe and sanitized bathroom,” Adebayo said. The mobile shower unit is staffed at all times while opened to the public. After each person takes a shower, there is a break time for volunteers to clean the bathroom, prevent exposure and ensure each experience is used for intended purposes.
The program costs an estimate of $1,000 a month for two shower days. Donations to assist the program go towards fuel, propane, laundry, water usage and insurance. The start-up cost for the program is about $50,000, which includes the trailer, licensing and permits, shower maintenance and sanitary products.
The Neighborhood Well, along with community partners including the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville and Community Crisis Services Inc. (CCSI), are building relationships in the community to help unsheltered individuals with essential needs. They have put together bags with lotion, toothbrushes, hand sanitizer and other products.
The organization chose Prince George’s County as its pilot program and hopes to expand the mobile shower program further into Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C..
Before the mobile shower program launched, the organization went to homeless encampments in the surrounding areas in Hyattsville to provide flyers, toiletries and resources to let them know that the services are available. Adebayo stated that it is crucial to build trust by being consistent in the community and reaching out to individuals frequently.
According to the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services 2020 PIT count, there were 466 homeless individuals throughout Prince George’s County. Of that number, 91 of them were unsheltered. Many people are grappling with the hardships of poverty, and those who do not have access to shelters or support may have a more challenging time obtaining access to showers and sanitation.
“As an organization, we are shedding more light on our unhoused neighbors,” Adebayo said. “We need to bring awareness to areas that may not be visible as D.C..”
Copy edited by: N’dia Webb