Located at the Annenberg Access Center in Santa Monica, The People Concern’s SHWASHLOCK program provides people experiencing homelessness with essential hygiene services including access to showers, laundry and lockers at no cost. Operating for nearly 30 years, the SHWASHLOCK program and its staff are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment to serve and engage our vulnerable neighbors with dignity and respect. The services offered by the SHWASHLOCK program are a critical step along the continuum of care and are often the first point of contact for people experiencing homelessness who are seeking services. “SHWASHLOCK is an opportunity to engage with the unhoused community, build relationships, educate them on services we offer as well as other resources in the community and encourage them to keep coming back,” says Charlre-l Jackson, Program Manager, Access Center.
Lockers offered by SHWASHLOCK are reserved for unhoused community members who wish to store their belongings while they work or while they search for employment and housing. “The bags our program participants carry can weigh more than 50 lbs. which wears on the body. Having their items on the streets also makes them vulnerable to being robbed or having their stuff stolen while they are sleeping. Being exposed to the elements also puts their important documents at risk of getting damaged or lost. Having a locker to store their documents is a vital resource because the documentation process can be very lengthy and often requires support from a service provider to help guide them through the process. Our participants are very grateful to have a safe place to store their items,” says Charlie-l.
Having a place to store your possessions also removes significant barriers to gaining and keeping employment. “If a program participant has a job interview we can give them a locker for the day so they can present in the most professional way possible. They can go into the interview confident, motivated and with peace of mind. Similarly, for program participants who’ve found employment, being unhoused while maintaining a job can be challenging. Providing lockers and the way our staff engages our program participants gives them a renewed sense of self. Our participants are empowered to go out and be productive. They just need a little bit of guidance and encouragement and that’s what they are getting here,” says Charlre-l.
SHWASHLOCK provides the opportunity for the Access Center’s Safety and Engagement team to connect people experiencing homelessness to support services. “David, about 28 years old, regularly receives services at SHWASHLOCK. He started opening up to me about his mental health issues and shared that he wanted to find work but was worried about where he would keep his things. I informed him about our locker program and guided him through his job search. Through SHWASHLOCK, David was able to maintain his hygiene, store his belongings and was provided professional attire for job interviews. It wasn’t long before he obtained a part-time job! Working has greatly improved his self-esteem and overall behavior. He continues to come to SWASHLOCK every day with a smile on his face. Today he is looking for a second job and has even expressed interest in seeing a therapist to address his mental health needs. It’s been amazing to witness and support his progress,” says Steven White, Safety & Engagement Attendant, Access Center.