Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Clean the World unveiled the first-of-its-kind service in Las Vegas to help the homeless population in July 2017. The Sands Cares Fresh Start Mobile Showers Powered by Clean the World is a traveling hygiene unit that visits locations serving those experiencing homelessness to provide showers, hygiene supplies and other resources available to them. Made possible by a more than $200,000 grant from LVS, the mobile hygiene unit has provided over 5,000 showers and travels to community partner locations, Monday through Friday. Partners include Stupak Center, Nevada Homeless Alliance, CARE Complex, WestCare and The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. Las Vegas has the sixth largest population of homeless individuals among major cities and the third highest number of unaccompanied homeless youth. In 2015, Las Vegas Sands began a multi-faceted program to address homelessness in Las Vegas through its global corporate giving program, Sands Cares.
“The Nevada Homeless Alliance (NHA) is thankful to have such a tremendous resource being offered to Southern Nevadans and there is a great need here,” said Emily Paulsen, Executive Director for NHA. “Clean the World has done a great job in partnering with organizations throughout the Las Vegas Valley to target populations that are more vulnerable and underserved based simply on their geographical location.”
NHA hosts monthly outreach events called Connect Events, where the Fresh Start Mobile Showers are present for individuals due to their basic need for proper hygiene. Beginning in August of 2017, outreach events were held where the mobile showers were present nearly every week resulting in 1,058 showers taken. Depending on the location, anywhere from 20-40% of outreach event participants use the mobile showers. Paulsen says the showers being available is an incredibly valuable asset for their events, along with numerous other offerings.
“We have witnessed individuals express both happiness and relief that the shower unit is at an event,” she said. “Through our partnership with the mobile showers, our organization has been able to identify areas where there is greater need. We have expanded our outreach events to be monthly and mobile and have hosted Pop-Up Project Homeless Connects at locations that the mobile showers have proven to be a success.”
In Southern Nevada, approximately 24,000 individuals will experience homelessness at some point this year, while 6,490 individuals experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017. Homelessness and the issues related to it are complex, requiring both immediate and long-term solutions, according to Paulsen. As long as people are experiencing homelessness, the need for services such as the mobile showers will persist, especially since the showers offer a level of privacy that some shelters are unable to accommodate, which is especially important to a portion of the homeless population who are transgender.
“Showering is a simple yet essential activity that people who have not experienced homelessness may take for granted,” Paulsen said. “Meeting this basic need for the homeless population is the right thing to do and a dignity that they deserve. Individuals who are hurting need to know that they are worthy and cared for. While not measurable through data, one of our favorite outcomes from the Pop-Ups is witnessing the transformation that happens from when an individual enters a mobile shower unit stall to when they exit. It is truly humbling to behold.”