Seven-hundred people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. Forty-four percent of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered. From the urban streets of our populated cities to the remote back-country of rural America, hypothermia - or subnormal temperature in the body - remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.”
The report concludes that “The Homeless service providers and governments have the responsibility to protect their homeless citizens through state- and city-wide winter plans and increased shelter availability. An exemplary winter shelter would be open 24 hours each day between October 1 and April 30, regardless of temperature, as well as any other days during the year when the temperature falls below 40o F. It would also admit all homeless people, regardless of sobriety status or past bans, unless they are violent or causing an extreme disturbance.”
Our resident families, thank heavens, are not at risk for hypothermia. They live in their own apartments. But, like most cities, our emergency shelter providers struggle to meet the need when the weather turns cold. The newly formed Homelessness Task Force is tackling similar issues for Kansas City.
- Laura Gray