The SHWASHLOCK program has provided people experiencing homelessness a safe, welcoming environment to meet their hygiene needs with dignity for nearly three decades.
During the 2019-20 fiscal year, SHWASHLOCK participants took 23,558 showers and washed 2,830 loads of laundry. The program has nine showers for men and five showers for women, each with a corresponding locker for use while showering, as well as three washing machines, four dryers, and 70 lockers for longer-term use. Any individual experiencing homelessness can use the showers and laundry machines for free, and any individual receiving case management from The People Concern can use the storage lockers at no cost.
The existing washers and dryers were recently replaced with high capacity, industrial machines. This improved equipment has enabled twice as many individuals to wash their clothes each day.
To best leverage these resources to support participants’ efforts towards moving into housing, lockers are reserved for those storing their belongings while they receive case management, work, or search for jobs or housing. For those who have no other place to leave their possessions, this removes a significant barrier to gaining employment, keeping employment, or meeting with a case manager. Further, some lockers are reserved for the use of agency outreach staff, who offer them to women and men who are particularly distrustful of social service providers. Our outreach professionals then use these interactions as opportunities to build relationships. Showers and laundry offer stepping stones to self-sufficiency in a similar manner, allowing individuals to meet their hygiene needs with dignity, removing negative public perceptions due to poor hygiene, and allowing staff to build trust. Staff work to create an environment of safety and adhere to the framework of trauma-informed care.
The People Concern relies on the generosity of community members to provide donations as well as public funding to keep these operations running. We are also always in need of volunteers to help staff operate the program.