Maintaining positive hygiene is critical for many individuals who are attempting to emerge from homelessness or extreme poverty. The stereotype of the homeless individual includes many misconceptions that are often driven by something as simple as a dirty shirt. Primary hygiene needs such as laundry become secondary or even tertiary as individuals must focus on the most basic acts of survival. This is part of the cycle that locks people into poverty. Without access to free and accessible laundry services, how can people apply for a job or for housing?
In the Spring of 2016, Bayaud Enterprises retired a commercial truck that was used in their paper shredding business. Rather than sell the truck, which is in good condition, We saw an opportunity to create a mobile laundry truck. Given thirty years of success and strong community relationships with Radian, Denver Homeless Outloud, and other service providers and advocacy organizations, The Laundry Truck initiative (from here forward TLT) is well positioned to create and implement a mobile laundry unit.
TLT’s goals in this project are 3-fold:
- To alleviate the cost, health, and safety issues associated with laundry services for people experiencing extreme poverty and/or homelessness.
- To provide job training for people experiencing extreme poverty and/or homelessness (0-30% AMI). The Laundry Truck will also provide an opportunity for small business development through the generation of earned income.
- To educate and do outreach using the Laundry Truck as a point of contact to build trust with individuals who experience severe persistent mental illness and homelessness.