Laundry Truck LA partners with LAUSD to help kids get clean clothes

By Nihar Patel

“We were really busy doing laundry seven days a week. And after visiting all these different types of motels and shelters, and parking lots and parks, we were introduced to the folks at La Puente school district and Los Angeles Unified School District, and recognized that there was another whole huge group of underserved people, which are kids,” shares The Laundry Truck LA’s founder, Jodie Dolan. Photo courtesy of Jodie Dolan.

The challenges for LA’s rising population of unhoused people are many. One issue that isn’t often discussed or dealt with is how people without homes clean their clothes. Jodie Dolan, founder of The Laundry Truck LA — whose fashion business, DOLAN, is located in downtown’s Skid Row — saw the need and decided to do something about it. 

Starting with one laundry truck in 2019, she and her team began driving to shelters and encampments to help people experiencing homelessness do their laundry.

As they have now weathered a pandemic and grown to two trucks, the need they’re seeing has changed. 

“We discovered that there were thousands and thousands of families who were living in unstable conditions. Whether they're in a motel or in a garage, or they're renting or on a sofa or sharing an apartment with many families, there's just not the resources,” Dolan shares. “And we have learned that if kids don't have clean clothes, they don't want to go to school, and they won't go to school. So this is just really, I think, a wonderful way to help the kids have a little more agency in their lives and be able to show up and learn, and really help the families that might be going through tremendous hardships.”

Bags of dirty clothes waiting to be washed outside one of the Laundry Truck LA’s many stops. Photo courtesy of Jodie Dolan.

To address that need, The Laundry Truck has teamed up with the La Puente School District and the LAUSD to start providing laundry services at schools for kids and families. But with more stops comes a need for more trucks, so Dolan and crew are currently fundraising to buy two extra vehicles.

“The whole goal is just to support the families, and ultimately the kids and keep them in school and help them be able to learn.”