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Shower trailer is back in operation

A shower trailer for use by homeless people in Ashland has been up and running for two weeks, said Michelle Arellano, executive director of Options for Helping Residents of Ashland.

When COVID-19 hit, it took everything the organization had to keep the Ashland Resource Center open, she said, but the shower trailer was temporarily put out of commission.

But it’s now open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Grove, 1195 E. Main St., through July 9.

After July 9 the city plans to make some improvements at the site, and the shower trailer will probably move to a church lot, but the goal is to continue offering showers twice a week.

About 20 to 25 free showers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis each day the showers are open.

The showers are cleaned between each use. Two OHRA staff members are on site to check people in and help to ensure proper social distancing.

OHRA received funding for the cleaning service from the city’s Community Development Block Grant funds, according to Linda Reid, city housing program specialist.

“The professional cleaning was a recommendation,” Arellano said. “We looked at best practices from other shower and laundry trailers, and we wanted to make sure that it was fully safe for each of our guests who come through, and for our staff.”

The shower trailer is not offering laundry services, she said. Instead OHRA is purchasing laundry tokens from Henry’s Laundromat, at 1656 Ashland St., to give to people who need them.

Before the shutdown hit, OHRA was looking to expand the shower trailer, Arellano said, but that effort has been paused.

Most of OHRA’s volunteers fall into the vulnerable age category for COVID-19, so the primarily volunteer-run organization is making it work with just staff right now.

“I feel pretty good about the next six weeks,” Arellano said. “Once COVID lifts, we’ll be looking for more volunteers, but right now the way that it’s running is looking very well.”

The Ashland Resource Center is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We normally average about 30 people a day (at the Resource Center),” Arellano said. “Yesterday we saw 75 people. To have a place for people to go during these troubling times is just another great resource for them.”

The shower trailer has seen about 10 to 15 people a day, Arellano said, but she expects that number to increase when more people learn it’s open.

Contact Ashland Tidings freelance reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.

The Ashland shower trailer is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 9 at the Grove, 1195 E. Main St.