Nonprofit wants to bring mobile shower and laundry to Austin’s homeless


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A nonprofit in Austin is raising money to bring a mobile shower and laundry station to the Capital City to help people who are homeless.

Lighter Loads ATX has been distributing food in north Austin since the group launched last fall. As they got to know people who are often sleeping out on the streets, co-founder Laura Ritchie learned “one of the things they said is they just don’t have access to clean water.”

That’s why they set a goal of raising $40,000 to customize a trailer that will have “two showers in it and also has two stackable laundry units.” 

Co-Founder James Ritchie said: “They’re fully equipped with a 400-gallon water tank [and a] 450-gallon waste water tank.”

“It is very frustrating, very humiliating,” said Woodrow “Will” Sherrad about not having access to clean water. “And of course a person just has no dignity left to himself. I’m up to that point.”

Sherrard said while he has a part time job, he’s been homeless for several years. “Sometimes I don’t get a shower or a shave as you can tell.”

“These people would like to live with dignity, just like you and I do,” said Laura Ritchie. “They want to get up and feel good about themselves.”

James Ritchie explained the group hopes to reach the fundraising goal in the next three weeks or so. Customizing the trailer will then take about 12 weeks. 

He said they’ve already identified three churches that will let them hook up the trailer to their buildings or park it on their properties. 

Ritchie said he wants to move the trailer around to different locations mainly in north Austin. “When you get further north, it is so far to get into downtown. They just dont’ have the luxury of getting down that far.”

The City of Austin spokesman told KXAN that as long as the trailer is on private property, they are not aware of any permits the group would need to obtain. 

On weekends, James Ritchie said they hope to provide other services like haircuts and medical help. 

Sherrard said, “It shows that people do actually care.”

Ligher Loads ATX said while they’re close to meeting the $40,000 fundraising goal, they still need help. If you’d like to donate, you can go to their website

Mobile toilet program in Austin

Last year, the Austin City Council approved funding to maintain a portable toilet in downtown Austin. 

This program is different because the toilet is for everyone to use, not just the city’s homeless.

Downtown Austin Alliance said one temporary public restroom is currently located in the 500 block of Brazos Avenue.

According to DAA, the city’s Public Works Department is working with the Austin Transportation Department to install three permanent restrooms.  

During the pilot phase, the city moved the toilet around to different locations to test usage. DAA said as they were testing out the program, they addressed a few concerns.

They said the location of one of the pilot locations had a negative impact on an adjacent business, and at the request and support of Public Works, the unit was relocated. 

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