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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Services’

The dangers of cold weather

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Mortality, Prevention

Infographic on when emergency shelter opens during cold weatherExtreme cold weather has touched just about every region in the country this winter. Snow, ice and below normal temperatures have caused traffic jams and school closings, but many communities have also been opening additional shelter for those who have no other place to stay warm.

Each year, as winter approaches and the temperature begins to drop, many homeless people move from the streets to their city’s shelter system to escape the cold. However, few communities have city-wide cold-weather response plans, and many of the plans currently in place leave gaping holes in accessibility.

In rural areas, shelters often have no outside resources to help them cope with the increased demand caused by cold weather conditions. Many shelters or cities offer expanded winter services only during certain months or only when the temperature falls below a pre-determined and arbitrary cut-off temperature. Above those cut-offs (hypothermia can occur in weather as warm as 50 degrees Fahrenheit) many cities do not offer resources to help the homeless people escape from the cold.

Without a carefully constructed winter plan, homeless service facilities may find themselves unable to accommodate the influx of residents, and some of those people who seek shelter are turned out into the cold. With nowhere to stay except the streets, people experiencing homelessness have a much higher risk than the general population of developing exposure-related conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. These conditions can be immediately life threatening and may also increase the risk of dying from unrelated conditions in the future. Increased homeless services, especially additional shelter availability, are necessary to accommodate the amplified need in the winter.

  • Read more about hypothermia and how we can prevent unnecessary homeless deaths in our Winter Services Report >>
  • Share this infographic about how cities respond to the increased needs of people experiencing homelessness during cold weather >>

 

Going Up, Going Down

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

Though every year communities understand that cold weather brings increased risk of illness and even death among those who do not have safe and permanent warm residence, it seems there is more contention about the opening of emergency winter shelters this year.  For that matter, it seems like there is ever more contention about the placement or even opening of emergency shelter beds, even as demand for emergency shelter is increasing.  Recent news stories show the number of people experiencing homelessness is:

Going Up

While the number of emergency shelter beds is not increasing with the need:

Going Down

The discussion that communities are having around opening emergency winter shelters for increased numbers of families and individuals they expect to need housing this winter could easily be shortened by providing that elusive solution to homelessness: housing.  The Obama Administration helped a great deal by providing permanent housing solutions through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  But funds for programs like the Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Rehousing program are running out this year.  Our challenge remains to provide long-term housing solutions, while providing for the safety of families and individuals who have no place to call home tonight.

Lots of communities are providing these long-term solutions, like the 100,000 Homes Campaign, along with other programs dedicating new sources of permanent housing and working as a community to provide the services people need.  But the challenge still remains, how can we use what little funding is available to provide permanent and preventative solutions to homelessness, while ensuring that everyone who is homeless tonight has at least a warm bed and roof over their heads?

YOUR concern for your homeless neighbors, or advocacy for the homelessness YOU may be experiencing, is more critical that it has ever been.  Make homelessness a topic of regular conversation!  Talk to your family, friends, neighbors and legislators about the need for housing solutions now.  Let’s not sit by while families, brothers, daughters, parents freeze on our streets this winter.

Keep learning at www.nationalhomeless.org.

5 Tips for Winter Planning

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

by Megan Hustings

In DC, we’re trying to squeeze the last days of warmth and sunshine out of the summer, and the last thing we want to think about is the temperature dropping more.  But winter is on its way.  Did you know that hypothermia, a life-threatening condition due to body temperature falling below 95 degrees, can occur when the outside temperature is as high as 50 degrees?  Wet clothes or socks can exacerbate already difficult weather conditions to make the risk of hypothermia greater.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors has reported for years that the number of requests for shelter beds far outweighs the actual number of emergency shelter beds available, and this is especially the case during periods of cold weather when it is just not healthy to remain outdoors.

Cities around the country are finalizing plans to provide warming centers and additional beds in emergency shelters when temperatures drop this winter.

It is never too late, or too early, to plan how your community can help those who do not have a warm place to call home this winter.  From out report on Winter Services , here are 5 things to be sure to include while you are planning for this winter.

5 Tips for Winter Services Planning:

  1. Increased Outreach – Talk to people who stay on the street to help you locate camps and common sleeping areas.
  2. Stock up on Blankets and Warm Clothing – Wet clothing will not keep anyone warm and can lead to greater risk of illness.
  3. Emergency Transportation – Does your city have vans or shuttles available to transport people to shelters that may be across town?
  4. Day Centers – Make sure there is somewhere people can go, at least when the temperature falls below 40 degrees F.
  5. Low Barrier Nighttime Shelter – Any past bans or other restrictions should be waived on nights when the temperature is lower than 40 degrees F.  If needed, people who are violent or under the influence can be separated, so long as they can remain warm.

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