By ARYANA AZARI, ABC News
(JERSEY CITY, N.J.) — Jersey City, New Jersey, is partnering with two Illinois companies to retrofit retired school buses into mobile units where people experiencing homelessness can access health services.
The city purchased the two buses from Joliet, Illinois, and is working with Infinity Trailers and Diamond Trailers and Specialty Vehicles to turn them into spaces where people without housing can shower, do laundry and receive services such as health screenings and counseling. The project has been made possible by a $50,000 grant from Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational company that specializes in health products.
Dubbed “Health Buses,” the vehicles will travel along a scheduled route and each will have two full shower and bathroom units, two laundry machines, a medical consultation room and free Wi-Fi. The buses will be free to use for all people, but they are specifically targeting women who are homeless to provide them with the safe spaces they need.
The initiative is part of a larger effort by Jersey City to make health services more accessible to at-risk populations.
“Our homeless are at special risk and special concern,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in a press release. “As we’ve already found with the public showers and the free testing we’re offering, by mobilizing our efforts directly to targeted areas and populations, we’re making our city services more accessible and therefore more utilized by those who need it most.”
The buses will also coordinate with housing agencies to help those in need move toward housing readiness, Jersey City Health and Human Services Director Stacy Flanagan said.
Diamond Trailers is handling the bulk of the retrofit and is taking care of stripping the buses down to their base structure and then turning them into a final product that’ll serve the community at large.
The company has never taken on a project like this before, as it specializes in mobile production trucks and trailers for studios, offices, marketing, sanitation and fire safety. But when the opportunity to work on this arrived, the answer was a “definite yes,” Eric Stutzman, Diamond Trailers’ CEO, told “Good Morning America.”
“I think that so much of what we do, especially trailers or vehicles, is usually a business-to-business type of project. We’ll create platforms that are built for specific purposes, much like this is but it’s usually some sort of business function,” he said. “This really brings some humanity to it. We’re serving the marginalized, and I think that we have a responsibility to do that.”
The buses are estimated to be completed and in Jersey City by mid-April.
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