Showers for San Francisco’s homeless will be harder to come by

On Stanyan Street across from Golden Gate Park, one homeless man was about to take a mobile shower in this blue trailer courtesy of Lava Mae.

When was his last shower, we wondered.

"Sadly Thanksgiving. It’s been difficult to try and get one," said Raven Upshaw. 15 minutes later he came back out. "Feel like a new person.” 

Thursday is the last day Lava Mae will be providing weekly showers here in the Upper Haight neighborhood. It is also ending its services in the Bayview and in the Mission in the coming days.

After almost six years Lava Mae is scaling way back in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. 

The founder and CEO says it's time.

"I've led Lava Mae as far as I can with my skills. It's time for new leadership to come on board," said Doniece Sandoval. 

Sandoval said Lava Mae will still provide showers once a week in front of the San Francisco Main Public Library.

Another non-profit called Dignity On Wheels is expected to take up the slack everywhere else.

Lava Mae will be focusing its attention on helping and encouraging other organizations step up and offer homeless services not only in the U.S., but around the world.

"Whether you are experiencing displacement because of homelessness or in parts of Europe because of the refugee crisis or in third-world countries because of poverty, this is a profound global challenge," said Sandoval.

Lava Mae has been serving about 12,000 homeless people a year.

Sandoval said she sees more people on the street now then when she started.

"As long as there is a disparity in income and what it costs to live in the city, it's going to be a problem," she said.

One man said he relies on the weekly shower Lava Mae provides. People can also shave and maybe find some clean clothes.

The staff cleans up after each use.

"It's kind of revolutionary. You don't see it anywhere else actually," said homeless man Sparrow Cooper.