Laundry Truck LA continues providing free laundry services for unhoused Angelenos, a year into pandemic

The Laundry Truck LA parked in downtown Los Angeles, July 27, 2020. She secured this second 16-foot trailer with the help of SoCalGas. Photo by Giovanni Jance/F32 Productions.

KCRW is checking in with people we spoke to at the start of the pandemic, to see how their lives have changed one year later.

Jodie Dolan has her own clothing brand and The Laundry Truck LA, a nonprofit that partners with homeless shelters city-wide to provide the residents with free laundry services and clean clothes. 

When KCRW first spoke to her in March 2020, the city had just asked her to ramp up laundry services, as it opened more shelters for unhoused individuals during the growing health crisis. 

Dolan says that in the early days of COVID-19, she was forced to lay off the majority of her staff.

“I've been in business for over 15 years in Los Angeles. And so that was pretty devastating. And I wasn't even sure really, I think I was in shock when I talked to you,” she tells KCRW’s Madeleine Brand.

Following her first KCRW interview, she’s received orders from listeners and the city of Los Angeles. Through the help of SoCalGas, Dolan says she got a second trailer that allows her nonprofit to provide free laundry daily. 

Dolan says rates of homelessness in LA have exploded, according to her own observations. “We’re seeing a really diverse group of people that were not on the streets before that are now, so we know that the numbers are going up. In a lot of cases, it's like, things happen that were out of their control. They lost somebody or they lost a job or they got sick themselves, and they're just trying to get through the day.”

Dolan says in the last year, her company has also made personal protective equipment plus comfortable (and functional) medical scrubs. 

In the coming days, Laundry Truck LA will host pop-up vaccine clinics, she says.  

“I don't want to say I'm doing like a victory lap. Who knows what will happen tomorrow/ But I do feel, at least, inspired by all the things that we've learned over the past year.”