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Homeless Shelters Become Climate Specific

by Vicky Price

Homeless shelters require compassion for their residents, tweaks and adjustments for special needs, and a geographical focus that quickly changes the services offered with, well, the weather.  A homeless shelter in Boulder, Colorado, for example, begins offering winter options for its clients in October that runs through April. A hot meal, a warm, dry bed, and personal hygiene services garnish the program considered essential in an area where the winters seem long and are definitely frigid. Services also extend to those who just need a hot meal in the morning and a shower. Folks who have other spots arranged for getting out of the weather for the night are welcomed along with the people seeking a place to sleep .

Most shelters in the more temperate zones offer some kind of "winterization" for their clientele. This is accomplished through the use of various charitable organizations and groups formed specifically to provide assistance to the homeless in less than ideal climate conditions. The National Coalition for the Homeless states there are seven-hundred homelessness deaths each year attributed to complications from weather exposure. The organization states there are three critical items that need to be observed to prevent these exposure deaths and other weather related injuries.

  • Knowledge possessed by public servants of what programs are in place for those at risk and the homeless' knowledge of warning signs and the availability of assistance and where to obtain it.
  • Networking the information to those at risk is crucial in educating and informing the homeless of the signs of hypothermia and frostbite. The coalition stresses this message must be repeated constantly to those that may be at risk on some occasion.
  • Temporary shelter and outreach is very important for the safety of the homeless population. Plans and shelters should be waiting in the wings ready with only a few hours notice that these services are ready to activate. The outreach to the homeless that may be at risk should be organized and effective in casting a wide net to inform those individuals of availability of assistance.

Homeless shelters in the more subtropical areas of the country offer identical services tweaked for the their climate. It has been said that when you find yourself sleeping at fifty-six degrees, "it's still cold." Hypothermia is still a concern in these areas. Coalitions and charitable groups have sprung up around these areas to help those individuals much in the same way as those shelters in the temperate zone. To learn more, contact a homeless shelter like Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities