San Francisco

Lava Mae Plans Second Bus And Expanded City Service

Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based non profit pioneering mobile showers and hygiene services for homeless people, is gearing up to fund its second bus and expanded city services.

Lava Mae launched its first converted Muni bus on June 27th this year, and currently serves the Tenderloin, Mission and Bayview. It offers service three days a week, providing an alternative to the city's scant half dozen publicly available showers for the homeless.

The goal of the project is to provide help for people without basic sanitation services, and give them the support they need to get back on their feet and reintegrated into society.

We spoke with founder Doniece Sandoval yesterday about the latest news with the project, and what we can expect to see in the Haight.

Even with services only operating three days a week over the last three months, Sandoval said that Lava Mae has provided about 700 showers to 450 people, including families. 

"We're already seeing the results," she said, "people who are able to interview for jobs, people who were just released from the hospital and aren't completely well but who are able to have a sense of health and wellbeing because they're able to access a shower."

One of the most obvious need-based destinations for Lava Mae is the Upper Haight. Can we expect to see services in the near future?

"We are hoping," Sandoval said. "We're starting discussions now, so nothing is locked down. That is definitely a target area for us, because there's so much need. We're trying to figure out now where we could be the most help."

In addition, Sandoval said, Lava Mae is in discussion with possible San Francisco partners for providing other health and sanitation services such as basic healthcare, lice and bedbug treatment, a needle exchange and AIDS testing. That way, she said, "we're not just doing triage, but helping people move out of homelessness."

She said that service providers for the homeless are beginning to recognize and act on the knowledge that if someone is on the street, "you probably have massive PTSD just from living on the street, you're probably not getting enough sleep, and you have to run around to different service providers." 

By providing a central, predictable location for all kinds of basic services, Lava Mae hopes to have higher success rates.

The goal is to "try to get kids into job placements, to begin to earn income, to find housing, to find stability. Everybody's thinking now is that you really need to be able to provide a 360 degree circle for people ... If we could pop in once a week and bring everybody to the table and it's all in one place, maybe our success rate will be much higher." 

We'll keep you posted on when you might expect to see Lava Mae headed to the neighborhood. 

Haight Pizza, 456 Haight St

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