November 25, 2019

Personal Hygiene Stations: A Temporary Solution for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Living on the streets presents many challenges, one of which is privacy – and particularly privacy for taking care of personal hygiene. Finding a public bathroom can be challenging, as they are unavailable for public use, locked during certain hours, and closed altogether in the winter. Increasingly, Cascadia’s Street Outreach Team (SOT) encounter individuals who are receiving citations and/or being arrested for not having a private place to use the bathroom, which is an unavoidable reality of being homeless. To address this issue, Cascadia’s SOT is working on a temporary solution to improve this situation for those experiencing homelessness and the greater community: Personal Hygiene Stations.

What are Personal Hygiene Stations?

Personal Hygiene Stations are portable toilet and shower units intended for easy use. Cascadia’s SOT gives these units to our outreach clients who have had, or are having, concerns related to waste management on the streets. The team works to ensure that individuals receiving these items are capable of not only using them, but maintaining them for long term use.

“We talk to our clients about the importance of low-impact camping and the idea of maintaining living areas and campsites with as little trash and waste as possible,” says Kim James, Program Manager of Cascadia’s Street Outreach Team. “We work diligently with people we serve to ensure they understand the importance of being a good neighbor.”

How do Personal Hygiene Stations Work?

The kits include a privacy shelter, bucket, toilet seat, toilet tissue, sanitation bags, cleaning towelettes, biohazard waste bags, toilet deodorant packets, bio blue toilet cleaner, portable shower, and a portable faucet attachment. Depending on the scope of what’s included in each kit, costs range from $100-150.  In addition to the kit, individuals receive small waste control bags and are taught how to properly dispose of the waste products and/or have it picked up as part of a larger bag collection process.

These kits are intentionally designed for portability and ease of use. Hooking up to water sources is simple using the identified shower hoses, which go through the top of the tent. To make the kit easy to use when individuals are on the move, large water jugs are provided so the unit can be used away from a major water source. Additionally, the unit is portable and all items fit inside the bucket, making it easy to carry.

What are the Results of Personal Hygiene Stations?

Personal Hygiene Stations can improve the quality of life for those living on the streets by maintaining personal hygiene, improving health and overall well-being. Additionally, it has the potential to reduce the amount of citations and criminal charges that result from individuals simply seeking space to manage their personal hygiene – something everyone should have the right to do.

“We believe these stations are helpful because they provide another option for those we serve,” says James. “We also hope it cuts down on individual citations, criminal charges and missed court appearances which all negatively impact the people we serve as we try to transition them from homelessness into an apartment.”

How Can I Help?

Cascadia has included donations to fund Personal Hygiene Stations in its Annual Appeal this winter, with hopes of raising funds for both Cascadia’s Street and Housing Outreach teams. With these generous donations, we will have the ability to distribute more stations to clients in need. A donation of just $100 will ensure someone living on the streets has a clean, simple and safe way to maintain their personal hygiene.

To donate and provide Personal Hygiene Stations to individuals in need, visit: https://cascadiahealth.org/give/.