FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) – Fremont is launching a new service on wheels to help the area’s growing homeless population.
Under the Washington Street bridge in Fremont, next to a line of tarps, is where a 59-year-old Fremont man who goes by “Cowboy” cleans his clothes in plastic bins.
Starting this week, there’s another option for homeless residents in Fremont and Newark, where they can take a warm shower and do their laundry.
About 70 people joined Fremont city leaders Tuesday evening as they launched the CleanStart Mobile Hygiene Unit.
It’s a trailer that has two full bathrooms and three washer and dryer units.
“I think it’s really going to really help people. When you’re clean and you have a shower and have clean clothes, you just feel better about yourself and the day looks brighter,” said Suzanne Shenfil, the Human Services Director for the City of Fremont.
The city of Fremont purchased the unit with a $125,000 grant from Alameda County.
A 16-year-old Boy Scout from Fremont also raised $1,500 to go towards the unit and made 250 toiletry kits for homeless residents for his Eagle Scout project.
“I’m trying to inspire other scouts in the community to do a project similar to this so they can have the same impact and benefit,” said Rohin Puvvada.
Fremont’s latest count shows a 27 percent jump in the homeless population in the last two years, with more than 600 people living on the streets.
“Not one single solution is going to solve all the homelessness,” said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei.
Mayor Mei said another part of the solution is the controversial navigation center for the homeless that the City Council recently approved, despite vocal opposition from some neighbors.
As for “Cowboy,” his encampment has been green-tagged by the city which means he has two more days to pack up his belongings and move. He doesn’t plan to use the mobile hygiene unit.
“Cause I have it right here. I don’t have to go nowhere. I don’t have to transport nothing,” he said. “It all becomes a hassle when you don’t have automobiles.”
The mobile hygiene unit is scheduled to start rolling out Thursday, with regularly scheduled stops at several faith-based organizations in Fremont and Newark.