Words by Tess Becker
In Brooklyn, US, shower buses are providing access, dignity and help for the homeless – in the best way possible.
How did this come about?
Well, making necessities such as showers and other basic services accessible is something Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) Health, Housing and Homelessness Solutions Division and the Community Assignment, Inc. have been working together to provide.
To address the issue, BCS has rolled out a mobile care and shower unit in the Flatbush neighborhood of New York City.
What's included in a 'shower bus'?
The bus features access to a hot shower, restroom facilities, food, socks, undergarments, and a change of clothes. Support services for mental health, peer counseling, housing, employment, and other social services are also available as needed.
“We’re hoping that by us being here every week, we can develop their trust,” CEO and President of Community Assignment Ramona Sargeant said.
And how's it going down?
People in the area were reluctant to use the service but became more comfortable with it the longer the bus was there. Many of the people that use the bus don’t like to use shelters for one reason or another. BCS wants to give them an option even without shelters.
“This is the interim,” Ramona said. “Even if you don’t use shelters, you still need a shower and clean clothes – we fill that gap.”
“You really have to love doing this to be out here. It takes a lot of patience to work with some of our individuals as mental health is also one of their issues that we’re dealing with, but BCS helps with that.”