Several months ago I had the opportunity to go on a four hour ride along with one of the City of Maricopa’s finest, Sergeant Koozer. During the many stops and public interactions, I was very moved by the plight of the small but vulnerable homeless population. Without the resources of a larger city, there isn’t a lot of infrastructure to help the sometimes only temporary homeless have a place to get a hot shower. Like so many other cities across the U.S., many of Maricopa’s homeless population are not just individuals but entire families, many of which have lost all of their earthly possessions and residing in their vehicles, showering with occasional friends or even in parks and camp grounds whenever possible.
Sergeant Koozer and I brainstormed for a bit talking about how mobile facilities could be used and even thought about converting a simple travel trailer into a mobile shower and laundry station.Shortly thereafter, I found several larger cities had experimented with converting retired buses to mobile showers, like this one in San Francisco run by a group called Lava Mae. Other cities had similar experiments but a few tried trailers to great success. Many partnered with local businesses on a rotational basis to be both the day’s headquarters and sponsor for the day, providing water and electric hookups.
With this and many other successes in mind, combined with the Zion Foundation’s goal to create self-sufficient communities that care for their own poor, we would like to start a pilot program that uses easy-to-procure materials — including the mobile structures — that can be found anywhere in the U.S. and create a system for others to adopt. Looking at other cities’ solutions as well as commercially available event trailers, we feel we can find the right way to develop a lower-cost, long-term solution. Our goal with this project isn’t to end homelessness, though that is a worthy goal. Our goal is to help those that are in a temporary situation to get to the next job interview or next meal and to help those in a long-term homeless situations feel the basic human dignity so they can comfortably enjoy the companionship of others.
For now, that program would work in Pinal and Maricopa counties here in Arizona. We are currently in discussions with several municipalities who show interest, need and are willing to provide support in some way to accomplish this. Though our project is in its infancy, you can help us put together the funding we need to start this project. Much of the costs involved in daily operations including fuel, tow vehicles, consumables such as tissue paper, body wash and shampoo, etc., much of which we are receiving offers of assistance. However, we need your help in procuring a professionally designed and assembled (but gently used) trailer that will allow two people the use of the facilities at the same time (pictured below).
This along with other local facilities, volunteers and yes, even a few offers of bus donations will help us begin this important work. Please join with us and lend your support to Project Dignity by making a tax-deductible donation to Zion Foundation.