San Francisco Wants Homeless People to Shower and Groom

Categories: Local News
A shower will get you farther in life than a college degree
Most people who live on the streets or in Portland, Ore., don't take showers -- and it's unsavory. But how can anyone expect a homeless person to find a job that pays them enough to live in an apartment if they don't lather up routinely?

San Franciscans certainly see the value in grooming, which is probably why our idea of charity is giving away old bottles of Chanel body creams.

During the month of December, we donated more than 500 pounds of soap, 300 pounds of shampoo, 600 toothbrushes, and 70 pounds of toothpaste as well as combs and deodorant -- all of which go to the city's homeless population.

The San Francisco Fire Department teamed up with a local nonprofit, Working Essentials, and put the word out that homeless people need to bathe, too -- and the message was well received.

"I can't tell you how quickly people responded," said fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge. "Collection bins at some fire stations were full within the first week."

Appearance and bad hygiene are among the biggest obstacles to overcoming homelessness, said Mark Melanson, spokesman for Working Essentials. And with state budget cuts crippling social services, it is becoming harder and harder for nonprofits like Working Essentials to spend money on things as basic as soap for the homeless population.

"They need a job, and we need to clean them up," Melanson said. "We need to make sure they look great."

There is a reason San Francisco has been marked the vainest city in the nation.

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My Voice Nation Help

Well I would say this is all nice and dandy but where does one go to take said shower, not Like there are many free places. Only people I know who could afford to take showers were the people Pan-handling... Not everyone wants to do that.


having been homeless in SF I can tell you that even when there is plenty of soap & such to go around the places where u can take a shower are few and theres always a long line to get in. most o the time it came down to a choice, do I want to stand in line to clean up or do i want to eat today.


it's a struggle to find a place that has hot water for you to take a shower at

Robert B Livingston
Robert B Livingston

How far and how well do "500 pounds of soap, 300 pounds of shampoo, 600 toothbrushes, and 70 pounds of toothpaste as well as combs and deodorant" go among the thousands of homeless people in San Francisco?

One thing is certain-- even in one of America's most charitable cities -- such help for the destitute comes as one of the most embarrassingly meager of band-aids.

Our country is shamed for its lack of decent work and opportunity, affordable housing, and universal health care.

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