There are 6,500 homeless people in San Francisco; 3,100 of them live on the street. There are 8 facilities, each with one or two stalls at best, where they can shower. That’s ~16 showers for 3,000+ people. The U.N. and World Health Organization define access to water and sanitation as a basic human right.
For most of San Francisco’s homeless, access to either is extremely limited so they’re forced to make do with whatever public sink or fountain they can get access to.
Lava Mae started with a cab drive and a zinger of a line delivered by a seasoned cabbie. “Welcome to the land of broken dreams,” he said. Those seven words, a desire to bring about change, and a belief that mobile/moveable could be powerful set in motion what eventually became Lava Mae.
Started by private citizens who believe that access to showers and toilets shouldn’t be a luxury Lava Mae, a project of the Tides Center, seeks to reach those who lack access to these necessities.
This is Lava Mae’s charge: provide sanitation, assist in deterring potential public health problems, and perhaps most critically, provide a much needed service to help a population struggling to retain a sense of dignity and self worth.
In essence, Lava Mae seeks to solve a small piece of what the United Nations and World Health Organization define as, and Lava Mae believes is, a basic human right: access to water and sanitation.
In communities across the globe, there are thousands of homeless people living on the street. In San Francisco, where Lava Mae is launching their project, there are 7, 350 homeless people – half of whom make the streets their home. And yet, there are only 8 facilities, each with one or two stalls at most, where they can shower.
People ask “why mobile?” Our answer is twofold: In a city like San Francisco, where real estate prices are exploding, mobile ensures that our service isn’t subject to rising rents and potential evictions. And perhaps more importantly, going mobile gives the flexibility to reach the homeless who are scattered throughout the city.
In Spanish, “lavame” means “wash me”. Often we refer to vehicles in the feminine as in, “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?” In the South, (where our founder grew up), it’s not uncommon for people to have two first names e.g Billy Bob, Peggy Sue. Putting it together gave birth to the name Lava Mae.
Lava Mae has been contacted by groups and individuals across the globe – from Singapore to Sao Paulo, LA to Atlanta – who want to create a Lava Mae for their community. Their business plan, budget, best practices and insights are ready to create a mobile revolution!
From Lavamae’s site: