Lava Mae: Buses converted into showers on wheels for homeless people

Interesting Engineering

San Francisco is said to be the homeless capital of the US, with almost 6,500 people being homeless during 2013. Recently, city numbers put this figure at 4,300 people actually having to live on the streets. Homeless people are faced with numerous challenges, including not having access to water and soap for a shower as there are only around 20 shower stalls in the San Francisco region that they are able to use. However, former marketing executive Doniece Sandoval has chosen to do something about this issue by starting up Lava Mae, a project that aims to turn buses which have been decommissioned by the city into showers on wheels for the homeless. She expressed her concern saying, “Homelessness is something you can’t really miss in San Francisco.


[Image Source: Lava Mae]

Sandoval came up with the idea after going past a woman on the street and hearing her crying, saying that she would never be clean again. It was then that Sandoval looked into what the opportunities were for the woman and other homeless people to shower and get clean.

The Lava Mae project should be running within a few months, with plans to transform buses that have been donated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Administration. The buses will be fitted out so that they can be hooked to fire hydrants around the city and they will eventually be able to accommodate around 200 people a day, who can use them to take a shower.


[Image Source: Lava Mae]

The Municipal Transportation Administration has already donated one of their unused buses and said that they will donate another three buses at some point in the future should the project turn out to be successful. Along with this the Public Utilities Commission also said that the buses can use the fire hydrants, providing that Lava Mae agrees to pay for the water used.

Each of the converted buses will have rooms for two shower stations and the plan is to have enough buses out so that they can accommodate people with around 2000 showers each week.

The project, which runs on donations, has first year budget target of $365,000, however, at the moment it is $80,000 short of this goal. There is fiscal sponsorship thanks to the non-profit Zero1, The Art and Technology Network, however they do plan on making an application to get non-profit status of their own next year.

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