Our Free Clothing Program, already the largest in the city, is about to expand its services. In the coming weeks, we’ll be building a hygiene hub, where guests can shower, use the restroom, and do laundry seven days a week. Using our existing space and infrastructure, we hope to eventually provide 32,000 showers and 20,000 laundered loads annually.
The new facility will meet a critical need, especially for the most vulnerable members of our community. According to a survey, 40% of our unhoused guests (people who have temporary residence at a hotel or shelter) do not have regular, safe access to a shower or a restroom. For our unsheltered guests (people with no roof over their heads) that number is even higher, with 70% unable to access these essential services. Meanwhile, 50% of our unhoused guests and 80% of our unsheltered guests do not have access to laundry.
The hygiene hub is the latest development in St. Anthony’s work to connect our guests with basic water access. Last year, we worked with the City to install a potable water station outside our doors so guests could wash their hands and refill water bottles. When CEO Nils Behnke noticed a guest using the station to wash himself, he realized that more was needed.
“We wanted to find a solution that respects our guests’ humanity,” says Behnke.
The showers and laundry room will be installed right here on the first floor of 150 Golden Gate Avenue. Guests will have 15 minutes to use three unisex showers on a first come, first serve basis. Shower guests will also have access to clothing kits for immediate use, and four washer-dryer machines will be available for folks looking to launder the clothing they already have. Construction is already underway, and we hope to have a pilot program up and running this summer.
At St. Anthony’s, we try to honor the dignity of our guests in all that we do, and the hygiene hub will be no exception. David Watterson, manager of the Free Clothing Program, is heading up the project and will be in charge of the new service. He says his team is committed to creating the best experience possible, taking into account every detail.
“We want to make sure that we’re developing a space that is really nurturing to people,” says Watterson. “It’s not going to be institutional, it’s going to be calm and serene. It’s going to honor people’s dignity.”
Please support St. Anthony’s in making services like the Hygiene Hub available to all, by making a generous gift today!