Lava Mae ('Wash me' in Spanish) is a San Francisco non-profit project which aims to deliver dignity to the homeless by providing them with access to mobile shower and toilet facilities.
Watch the five-minute video and say whether the statements below are true or false.
1 Lava Mae intends to set up 7 shower stalls for the San Francisco homeless.
2 Doniece Sandoval learnt about the replacement of San Francisco buses in a meeting.
3 Public showers were prohibited in San Francisco in 1992.
4 The biggest challenge they are facing is what to do with the used water.
5 Doniece Sandoval can feel the public support for the idea.
6 Similar ideas to the Lava Mae project have been put into practice somewhere else.
7 They use a 50-litre water tank for heating the water.
8 Users are expected to spend half an hour having a shower.
9 A non-profit organisation is advising the people behind the Lava Mae project.
There are only seven locations in the city of San Francisco where if you're homeless, you can go to take a shower. We're looking at 16 to 20 shower stalls for the 3,500 people who actually live on a street and that's untenable and I just thought if you can put gourmet food on wheels and take it anywhere, why not showers and toilets?
I had seen an article on the Chronicle recently about the Feds providing money to the city to replace these old diesel buses and I just started thinking I wonder what they're going to do with those buses? I want those buses!' So we reached out to Muni and we found out that they have a donation programme.
So we're transforming a passenger vehicle into, essentially, a bathing facility.
You want to see this tucked back tighter?
And you want to see a cove?
We brainstorm for several months how this could even be possible in a city like San Francisco which is so ridden with permitting and regulatory hurdles. The actual bus we're using is a 1992 Gillig Phantom Bus. It's an Enguno bus which historically ran from all the way down to the Sunset.
To drive a bus like this and have big, giant water tanks, we completely destabilized it. So we, for example, will be drawing water from fire hydrants.
The biggest challenge I think was how to deal with all the black water and gray water which is generated from two showers running every half hour, three hours a day. That's a lot of water.
You can see the shell of the bus and then the two shower pods which are inserted inside the confines of the exterior wall.
Over and over again people said, you are crazy and we love this idea and we will support you if you go out and get it done.
My name is Chris Doherty. We're here at Airco Mechanical in Sacramento, California. We're in the mechanical room of the Lava Mae Bus. We have the engine here on this side of the wall. We have the mechanical room here which is all the workings of the bus and then we have the two bathrooms as we work forward on the bus. The biggest challenge is in completing this is nobody's ever done this before so a lot of just trial and error.
So the unique thing about this particular plumbing system is that you would see this in a small commercial building or residential house and we put this in the back of a Muni bus to run two full bathrooms. So this here, we have a 50 gallon hot water heater, it's powered by propane and this delivers all the hot water to our showers, our lavie's and our heating system.
So the unique thing about this particular bathroom here is that we have skylights in here, we have a digitally-controlled shower, we have hot and cold and we're still on a bus.
It's just two units that have a shower, a sink, a toilet and a small changing area so, it's idea of even though you're only going to be on the bus for 20 minutes or so, it's 20 minutes of complete privacy and respite to hopefully recharge yourself in a lot of ways.
We decided that what we would do is partner with an existing non-profit that's already serving the homeless that ultimately doesn't have showers and sanitation available to them. So we augment the services that they're offering and we also benefit from their expertise and their wisdom about how to operate best in this realm.
Lava Mae is not about ending homelessness. What we are about is providing hygiene because we believe that hygiene brings dignity and dignity opens up opportunity.
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