ShowerUp Chicago: Mobile shower unit giving hope and dignity to homeless individuals

A nice shower can be the perfect way to feel refreshed, especially with the summer heat. But many of Chicago's homeless struggle to find places where a shower is even a possibility.

That's where the Cook County Sheriff's Department and a unique non-profit come in.

In a FOX 32 special report, Natalie Bomke highlights how a shower is something that you may not realize is a luxury.

For Elizabeth Maldonado, she knows all too well what a treasure it is.

"I used to pay people money so I could take a shower in their house and sometimes they were there, sometimes they weren't," Elizabeth said. "So when Shower Up came out, I said 'well it's about time.' They heard my prayer, you know, because otherwise we don't have options."


So what is ShowerUp Chicago?

"ShowerUp is a mobile shower unit. It's a non-profit organization that started off in Chicago two years ago," said Christian Peyret, regional director of ShowerUp.

Peyret says the power of a shower can be transformative. He loves seeing the confidence that the homeless gain, after stepping out of the shower with a fresher perspective on life.

"Everywhere we go, we are welcomed with open arms and every time somebody gets in the shower and they come out, they're very grateful for what we're able to provide," Peyret said.

The non-profit has been working with the Cook County Sheriff’s Homeless Assistance Resource Program (SHARP) for about four months.

"It is going great," said Alfonzo Hunter, SHARP’s program manager.

Hunter says the partnership has been seamless. While ShowerUp provides the shower, the sheriff’s SHARP team provides the volunteers, water, and a few other necessities.

"Towels, shampoo, toiletries, we have some clothing and whatever they need to refresh and renew," Hunter said.

"Most of the people we’ve interacted with didn’t know this was available. I didn’t. Frankly, we’ve been doing this for 10 years now, had no idea such an entity existed. When I was informed about it, this is absolutely brilliant," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

The SHARP team also brings care packages to the unhoused, sharing information about ShowerUp, and where they can find other resources like legal aid, medical care, help with substance abuse, and housing.

"We visited over 130 encampments. We've been to each encampment at least three times, so that people are familiar with the program, they're familiar with us, and the response has been great," said Hunter.

Right now, SHARP and ShowerUp are setting up the free mobile shower unit in the 2300 block of South Rockwell Street on the last Tuesday of every month.

Not only has ShowerUp been helping out Chicago’s homeless, but also some migrants as well. They’re hoping to expand to more areas across Chicago.

"We also help out with the homeless community which could be at New Life Center, which is located in Humboldt Park. We are also adding new locations along the way throughout, you know for the future," Peyret said.

As simple as it is, it’s hard to describe just how much a good shower means to someone like Elizabeth.

"You know you almost feel human when you didn't feel human. And you don't feel human homeless period. But this makes you feel as close as it can get to being human," Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth says in the past, she could take a shower at a park district field house, but that option is no longer available.

You can find more information about the ShowerUp Chicago program on