Mobile showers give Petaluma’s unhoused the gift of cleanliness
Since launching last fall, a mobile showers program for unhoused individuals has provided clean water, clean clothing and useful hygiene kits for countless Petaluma residents in need.
The mobile showers vehicle – an impressive wheeled trailer containing three separate shower units – began appearing at two Petaluma locations twice a week, but organizers plan to double its availability to four times per week.
Currently the showers are available Mondays and Fridays at COTS and Tuesdays at the Petaluma Salvation Army. Future availability is planned for Lucchesi Park as well.
Azul Espinoza, who coordinates the mobile showers for the Petaluma chapter of Downtown Streets Team, underscored the program’s importance for the unhoused community.
“People who aren't receiving services in our program were able to come to the location at COTS,” Espinoza said. “So there are a lot of people who are unhoused who were able to be there.”
That’s just locally. The larger Downtown Streets Team organization operates within 20 communities around the Bay Area and Central California. According to its website, "The Petaluma Team was launched in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic with support from the Petaluma Business Improvement District along with the City of Petaluma.“
More than just hot showers are being offered through the local program. For example, earlier this winter, people were also given free haircuts by a professional hairdresser, Bridget Maier.
“I’m very blessed to be a part of this, everyone deserves to feel human again. If I can do that by a haircut, I’m honored to provide the service,” said Maier, who on Dec. 23 came to Petaluma’s COTS from her home in Clearlake, and ultimately provided 14 haircuts that day.
Clean socks and other items were given out as well – participants needed only to show up.
Each of the three units in the trailer contains a shower stall, a toilet and a sink, and one of the units is wheelchair accessible. Organizers sanitize the units thoroughly after each use.
“I used the mobile showers for the clothes, the hygiene products and the barber,” said Jared Lybberty, a resident at Mary Isaak Center.
“It’s actually very helpful, I’ve found great use of it,” he said.
Emma Molloy is an intern for the Argus-Courier. Reach her at email@example.com.