King County launches mobile shower unit for the homeless

Weekly stops in Kent, Renton and Seattle

Homeless people can use mobile showers in Kent, Renton and Seattle with the launch of a new program.

The mobile shower by Clean the World, a global leader in water, sanitation, hygiene and sustainability, brings health and hygiene to those currently unsheltered in the region, according to a King County Executive’s Office March 24 news release.

The shower unit is available during the month of April from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in Kent at Titus Pit (aka Pea Patch), 94th Place South and Green River Road. The unit stops from 8 a.m. to noon Mondays at the Old Renton Chamber of Commerce, 300 Rainier Ave. N. It also stops three other days at Seattle locations.

The mobile shower, purchased by the county with American Rescue Plan federal funds, is part of key strategic initiatives laid out last year to support people experiencing homelessness, according to the news release. This program brings clean water, soap and washing facilities that reduces the risk of infection and illness like COVID-19. The program is slated to expand locations throughout the year.

The county paid $536,000 for the mobile showers and they cost $286,000 annually to operate, according to an email from Katie Rogers, spokesperson for the King County Department of Community and Human Services.

“The ability to bathe is basic to human dignity, and something most of us are fortunate to be able to take for granted,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The launch of this mobile shower with our partners at Clean the World gives people the chance to feel refreshed, gain confidence and live healthy lives.

“The additional funds from Congress for this project are greatly appreciated as we look to identify strategies big and small to support those experiencing homelessness across our region.”

The shower trailer is completely self-contained and can provide up to 250 showers a week. It includes four private stalls with sink, toilet, shower and dressing area, including one ADA compliant stall equipped with a baby changing station. The unit is sanitized after each use. Hygiene kits, including soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste will be provided along with towels.

Individuals will eventually be able to access wrap-around services at partner host sites that may consist of mental health or substance abuse assessments, food assistance, help getting identification, clean clothes, healthcare, veterinary care for animals, job placement training and housing assistance. At some locations, Clean the World plans to partner in the future with the county’s Mobile Medical Van.

“Expanding the Fresh Start WASH & Wellness Program into King County means connecting the vulnerable population in this area to critical hygiene and wellness services that will offer a comprehensive approach to both physical and mental health,” said Shawn Seipler, founder & CEO of Clean the World. “King County wants to support people experiencing homelessness with the resources needed to transition out of their situation and make them healthier and more confident in the process. A warm shower, hygiene supplies, and access to vital resources offered through our many service partners is a big step in that direction.”

Clean the World, based in Washington, D.C., began its mobile shower program for the homeless in 2017, according to its website.

King County Department of Community and Human Services is partnering with cities in South King County to deploy the mobile shower unit, in addition to operating Seattle locations.