Sheltering at home looks significantly different for those of us who are unhoused during a global pandemic. Suddenly establishments like restaurants and gyms are closed. Already limited options for washing up and maintaining hygiene are now severely reduced. And simple steps like handwashing to stay healthy take added planning or are just unavailable, putting unhoused people at a much higher risk. Such is the situation in Hollywood, where the KOHLER Relief Shower Trailer will be deployed for the next six months.
Partnering with World Vision, Adventist Health, and Showers of Hope, Kohler has stationed the trailer at the Hollywood Adventist Church’s Compassion Connection to provide a showering resource and hygiene supplies to the city’s unhoused population. The effort will triple the number of showers available for use and provide additional sinks and changing spaces, along with a shower space designed to accommodate the needs of unhoused individuals who are differently abled. In total the shower will be able to serve 1,200 people a month.
According to Andrew Pyles-Foemming, Administrative Director Hollywood Adventist Church, “Los Angeles has one of the largest homeless populations in the country and COVID has disproportionately affected those who are underhoused.”
While there are a variety of reasons individuals and families become unhoused, the steep price of housing and the current unemployment crisis have contributed to the issue. Pyles-Foemming describes a subset of unhoused individuals who are working, but whose jobs don’t pay enough to cover rent. “The ability to be showered means that they’re able to stay employed.”
Beyond providing access to basic hygiene, the shower trailer taps into the mental and emotional well-being that being clean affords people. As David Bogdenoff, a guest user who has been unhoused for 5 years, notes, a shower “makes you walk different. It makes you stand different. It makes you feel a lot better. You got the same start as everyone, so you feel up to par.”
Since it’s inauguration in 2018, the trailer has provided aid across the country in the wake of natural disasters and other crises, including the California wildfires, Hurricane Michael cleanup, and COVID-19 field hospital. “Being able deploy the KOHLER Relief Showering Trailer to support communities experiencing hardships, no matter the circumstance, is the reason the initiative was created,” says Cindy Howley, Senior Manager of Stewardship at Kohler.