Helping the “Unhoused” One Shower At A Time

What is universally despised in large, modern, metropolitan areas more than its public transportation, and in particular, the city bus? Slow, crowded, unpleasant – it mostly reminds us of lean times of struggle. However, a creative group of folks from San Francisco have come up with a brilliant idea that repurposes this inner city workhorse, converting it from a people mover to a mobile oasis where unhoused neighbors can seek comfort.


This initiative is called Lava Mae, and it is based on the concept of Radical Hospitality – bringing critical services to the street where people experiencing homelessness need them most. Founded by Doniece Sandoval in 2013, Lava Mae began by converting public transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels to deliver hygiene and rekindle dignity for their unhoused neighbors in San Francisco.

Inspired by the plight of evicted neighbors who had no shelter to go to, Doniece developed a proposal to create this unique solution and started fundraising. Her crowdfunding program raised $75,000 which paid to retrofit their first bus, and she was able to harness the power of big brands like Unilever and Google to raise awareness globally. "When you are really trying to serve people, the ultimate act of care and compassion is to take the service to where people are, and for us, our guests are on the streets," she explained. "Through our partners, we get the word out and word on the street just spreads like crazy."

Since inception, Lava Mae has delivered 67,000+ showers to 17,000+ guests, expanded to Los Angeles and Oakland, and innovated one-stop Pop-Up Care Villages to dramatically improve access to essential services for people living on the streets.

Soon Lava Mae will be announcing their plans to ignite a Radical Hospitality revolution globally. Watch and learn how they will be teaching communities around the world how to bring mobile hygiene with privacy and dignity, Radical Hospitality, and restored hope to their unhoused neighbors.

Learn more at: https://lavamae.org/

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