Clean clothes are a major factor in getting a job, being accepted for housing, presenting well in public and being treated fairly in a society that judges people on appearance. Clean clothes also contribute to feeling good and healthy!
Currently in Eugene/Springfield, there are limited options for homeless and low-income people to do laundry for free. Some services are available through St. Vincent dePaul’s Lindholm Service Center on HWY99, through First Place Family Shelter in Eugene, and through a program called “Laundry Love” that is run though Holiday Coin Laundromat in Springfield. Each of these programs do a great service, but are often overrun and have limitations of capacity. We need community support to expand all services to better meet the diverse needs of our unhoused neighbors.
In 2018, a generous grant from the MillsDavis Foundation launched or pilot project to provide laundry services to the four city-sanctioned “Rest Stop” camps in Eugene run by Community Supported Shelters and Nightingale Health Sanctuary. For this project, we hire exclusively unhoused (or recently housed) individuals. We also provide job training and support toward stabilization.
Toward the end of 2018, we were able to expand services to help “unsanctioned” campers with disabilities, who could not access regular services.
This program seeks to fill a gap in services by specifically targeting organized camps and acutely disabled campers. In doing so, we are supporting the continued stabilization and success of campers (many of whom are getting additional support in their camps) and generally supporting the idea that with appropriate resources, unhoused individuals can succeed in camp communities.
In 2019, MillsDavis funded a second year of the project which is allowing us to expand to a “clothing/bedding exchange.” Through this program, people can exchange wet/dirty bedding for dry/clean bedding. We then launder the bedding and recycle it back into the community.
Our current exchange sites are under development.