NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In a new plan to tackle the homelessness problem in New York, a mobile shower service is coming to Brooklyn to help people living on the streets get clean.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the idea first started on the West Coast. But will it work in New York City?
Alonso Zakow, 33, a construction worker from Texas, said he is now living on benches in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
There, his safety is often in doubt — and his personal hygiene is a lost cause. He said he takes a shower in a church, hut only Saturdays.
He would welcome any additional chance to clean up — and soon, he will be able to get it thanks to the group Turning Point Brooklyn.
The new shower bus will roll from parks, to food pantries to highway underpasses — anywhere the homeless gather. It is now in the design stages, with only a printed mockup now available.
But it is modeled very closely to a similar bus in San Francisco — fitted with two shower stalls, toilets, sinks and benches.
“We are offering them these services hoping that it’s just a stepping stone for them to regain their dignity and their life,” said Tata Traore-Rogers of Turning Point, the group that will operate the bus.
The mobile shower unit will be complete with free soap, shampoo, towels, shaving kits as well as new underwear and socks.
The mobile shower will cost $385,000 to build.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams donated $308,000 towards the first-of-its-kind project for New York. The City Council is covering the rest.
“I think the demand is here, and by rolling this bus out it’s going to allow us to gauge the demand and then see, how far do we duplicate this?” Adams said.
The shower works by heating up an external water supply.
“It gets plugged in to a fire hydrant, which means we have to work with the Fire Department,” Traore-Rogers said.
In California, there are several buses and fixed shower locations in buildings that are now serving tens of thousands of homeless people per year.
The much smaller Brooklyn version might only be able to provide less than 70 showers a day.
Organizers say with a need so great and only one bus operating in Brooklyn, they fear they will be overwhelmed they’d like to see buses is rolling in every borough.
“There might be some downsides to having this happen,” said Bob Selden of Allenhurst, New Jersey.
“Bring homeless here more than what we need – it’s already an epidemic already in New York City,” said Charity Jones of Chelsea.
“It might cause lines,” said one woman named Desiree.
To prevent long lines of homeless, tickets will be handed out and stamped with times to return for showers.
Now that phase one of funding is a success:, buying the bus, re-tooling it, and rolling out is expected to take about a year.