Love Beyond Walls brings portable sinks to the streets.
Many communities and nonprofits are banding together across the U.S. to help the homeless during the pandemic. With the closing of soup kitchens and shelters, the virus has had a profound impact who rely on them. In addition to providing food and clothing, other essentials are now being offered in an effort to combat the crisis. For one, portable sinks are being installed as a means of increasing hand washing and decreasing the spread of the coronavirus among the homeless. Over the course of the last two months, the Georgia-based nonprofit group, Love Beyond Walls, has been setting up dozens of hand washing stations.
Terence Lester, the organization’s founder who had been homeless himself earlier in life, said he started the “Love Sinks In” campaign with the hopes of “supporting neglected people living in poverty during the pandemic.” He added, “People would say things like ‘I’m fearing I’ll contract the coronavirus because I have nowhere to wash my hands.’” He knew something more needed to be done.
The organization’s website explains, “As the rest of the world is talking about sanitizing and washing their hands, there is an entire community of homeless people who aren’t able to do those things. There are well over half a million homeless people who would give anything to have a safe, warm place to lay their heads.”
Grammy award-winning hip hop artist Lecrae, a friend of Lester’s, has stepped in help spread the effort across Altanta. Love Beyond Walls has also joined forces with other charities to install sinks in other areas of the U.S., including Birmingham, Austin, Columbus, New Orleans, and New York City, to name a few. During a media interview, Katie Couric surprised Lester by making a $10,000 donation for fifty more portable sinks.
Other cities are stepping in to help limit the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless community. A portable shower unit was brought into Detroit on April 9, 2020. The unit has six total showers and is set up at a University of Detroit Mercy School of Law parking lot. Across the street there are tents with heaters and food where those looking to use the shower can wait for their turn.
“The idea of mobile showers arose when the city of Detroit reached out to see about getting access to showers again,” said city spokesperson John Roach. “With a $25,000-a-month rental from UnitedRentals based in Akron, Ohio, and help from the Detroit Fire Department to connect the water” this goal was accomplished.
Also, in Detroit, more than fifty agencies in the Homeless Action Network of Detroit are providing shelter, transitional housing or permanent support housing and street outreach. The City is working closely with its thirty-one shelter providers to ensure they have necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). It has set up a 125-bed facility in partnership with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries where those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can be admitted and screened. Each individual will have his or her own private room while waiting to be screened. After they are seen, they will either be released to recover at home or taken to the hospital.