Showering Is a Human Right | Nonprofit Humanity Showers Brings Essential Services to People Experiencing Homelessness

Jordan Verdin, founder of San Diego-based nonprofit Humanity Showers, is candid about his organization’s mission. “We’re not trying to solve homelessness, but rather a lack of access to showers. Showers dignify people to get access to other resources that can elevate their living situation.”

Jordan started this grassroots advocacy in 2014 after asking people experiencing homelessness the simple question, “If someone heard your story and wanted to help you, what’s the best way to support you?” The unanimous reply he received wasn’t about money or food—it was that they would love to have a place to shower. With this in mind, Jordan put together a GoFundMe, raised $10k, and built his first two-stall portable shower trailer.

Nearly ten years later, the impact of Humanity Showers is not easily quantified with numbers. Because people experiencing homelessness are often seen as a commodity, Jordan prefers to not keep an exact tally of those he’s served. If he had to make an estimate, though, he says they likely provided at least 25,000 thousand showers in 2022 alone.

Humanity Shower’s Mission

“We believe that every person deserves access to a shower and dignity, no matter what. We do this on the premise that it’s every person’s fundamental human right to have access to showers. We offer weekly mobile showers throughout North County, San Diego, CA. Our goal is to support those in need, assisting them in our best capacity for a better quality of life. To do this, we collaborate with local groups to provide showers, haircuts, hygiene, food, and clothes.”
– Jordan Verdin, founder of Humanity Showers

Sharing Heartfelt Stories to Inspire Compassion and Change

Since 2014, Jordan has photographed and collected stories from more than 800 people who’ve used Humanity Showers’ services. Storytelling, he believes, builds bridges, provides dignity, breaks down stereotypes, and removes the perception of “otherness” that can be associated with those going through homelessness.

A common thread Jordan has discovered through all his interviews and collected stories is that people have the need to feel clean and seen. “So if you walk past a homeless person on the street, remember they are just like you. They’ve maybe had worse luck and are maybe struggling through addiction, unpayable debt, or other circumstances that left them unsheltered.”

Portraits and Interviews by Jordan

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Building Relationships and Shattering Perceptions

Jordan says that hiring locals going through homelessness to run the showers is a key factor to their continued success. “People really know each other and help each other. Local teams are set up to operate all showers across the county. They are self-led.”

With the numerous people Jordan has met, he feels that it’s time to put an end to cliches regarding homelessness.

“A common misconception is that the homeless don’t want to work. They do want to work but no one gives them an opportunity to work. The first six people that worked for our showers all got off the street.

“Another misconception about the homeless community is that people are alone on the streets, but it’s a very tight-knit community, and they take care of each other. We see people share resources and help each other when they meet at one of our shower events. Most have a phone and access to internet/social media.”

Services Offered by Humanity Showers

  • Operate four shower trailers every week across San Diego County (plus another launching soon in Vista)
  • Provide about 2,000+ showers throughout San Diego each month in addition to pop-up showers once a month in Orange County and LA, where they also partner with other grassroots organizations
  • Open every day except Sundays
  • Grooming, styling, and other hygiene services
  • Food, clothing, and essential items regularly offered free of charge
  • Once a month Humanity Showers partners with the District Attorney at pop-up events to provide additional services, such as health education, case management, and assistance in removing barriers to housing
  • DMV resources at pop-up events to resolve parking ticket issues

A secondary goal of Humanity Showers is to equip people with the resources to find housing and employment. They offer opportunities to gain work experience in fields like maintenance, sanitation, managerial positions, and more. Several who worked at Humanity Showers have now gone on to have stable jobs.

Humanity Showers - Magic Foam Experience
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Foam Experience team tows the shower trailers and gets them to certain locations and events each week. They also keep the energy light and positive with music, dancing, and of course, magic foam!

Moving Forward

Jordan has launched a pilot program to support other organizations that want to offer showers in their community. Humanity Showers assists by lending trailers, offering mentorship, and other resources so more grassroots organizations can learn how to operate showers and eventually buy their own.

Some organizations now operate independently thanks to Jordan’s pilot program. Collaboration, not competition, is one of Humanity Showers’ guiding principles: “It’s about showing other communities what it could look like.”

How Can Others Get Involved?

“Act local, give local!” says Jordan, who grew up in San Diego and stresses the importance of being active in your community and making sure resources stay local.

Jordan doesn’t believe in fundraising but in tapping into local communities to see how people show up for each other. In the past, he’s walked away from potentially lucrative investments and funding opportunities because he wants Humanity Showers to belong to the community it serves and not have its operations coopted by any entities with financial motives.

This unconventional approach has proven to be successful, on his own terms. His five-year vision for Humanity Showers is for it to no longer exist. “What is the purpose of running a nonprofit organization that aims to address an issue in perpetuity?” he poses. “Perhaps we’re not doing enough as a society if we keep allowing people to fall into homelessness.”

Visit the Humanity Showers’ website to learn how you can start connecting and changing lives in your community.

Author Profile

Cristina Muñoz

Cristina Muñoz is Dr. Bronner’s Constructive Capital Project Specialist. She manages Dr. Bronner’s product donation program, facilitates funding requests, and event activations with nonprofit allies and campaigns. She loves treasure hunting at second-hand bookshops, hiking, and exploring new ways to embrace a slower, more sustainable lifestyle.

See all stories by Cristina Muñoz