Manhattan school installs free laundry to aid homeless students

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- A Manhattan school has installed a washer and dryer for students who may not have access to them due to homelessness.

A recent report by Advocates for Children of New York identified over 114,000 students were homeless in New York City during the 2018-2019, and officials at PS 132 in Washington Heights say nearly one quarter of its students are currently living in shelters or overcrowded homes.

To aid students, the elementary school hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for its newly installed washing machine and dryer, obtained by Catholic Charities of New York's Catholic Charities Community Services, Alianza Division.

"There's a lot of parents I've been talking to, and they be like, oh we live in a shelter, oh it's really hard sometimes to get a clothes ready," parent Soraya Rodriguez said. "Most of them had to stay home because they don't have their uniform, and therefore, if you don't have your uniform is clean, there's no way you can go to school."

The machines will benefit students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity who are unable to wash their clothes at home.

"When the clothes are clean, then there's no bullying," Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer said. "There's no what young people can say to other young people. That doesn't happen."

Officials say that 47 of the school community's 195 families are currently residing in shelters or homes that are doubled or tripled up and shared with extended family members.

Prior to the machines' installation, PS 132 faculty had been bringing home and washing the clothing of students living in shelters with limited or no access to laundry services.

"Our school aide (would) take the clothes home, wash them and bring them back," Principal Wendy Poveda said. "Dirty clothes seems like something we can handle. It impacts attendance. It impacts self esteem."

The machines are free to use.

Officials say the donation will not only benefit those families in transitional housing but any students and their families that may eventually need this type of service.

The room where the equipment was placed has been named JPD Cares in collaboration with CCCS/Alianza in order to protect from any stigmatization that could come with families entering the space.

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