Dangerous Temperatures for Homeless

Restrictive procedures lead to unavailable emergency shelters

Emergency shelters open their doors during frigid temperatures, but restrictive procedures make accommodations difficult for the homeless population.

Certain shelters focus on housing either all female or male applicants. Shelters require clients to fill out an application in order to determine if the applicant is indeed homeless and it can take a week for a denial or acceptance.

This winter’s outlook has predicted the South to have temperatures much below average. Homeless are also at risk from other weather conditions such as rain and lightning.

Even though hypothermia can occur in temperatures as high as 50 degrees, many shelters, including shelters in Austin, do not open until temperatures drop below freezing. Although rain has been more abundant during this winter, shelters still have to wait until it reaches temperatures below freezing due to the lack of space.

The limited shelters and space available make it harder for people to find a place to stay protected from inclement weather conditions. Building more shelters is a difficult solution due to the cost and time invested.

The lack of cots available for the homeless leaves shelters to provide them with sleeping bags, if they have any. If shelters run out of room, which they do more than often, churches are called in to volunteer their floors. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, emergency shelters approximately cost eight grand more than providing federal housing.

Despite the difficulties, we can still help by donating hygienic products, gently-used blankets, clothing, etc to shelters such as the Salvation Army for the homeless staying in their shelters. Small things are an enormous help to those who do not have much, and you will be able to make a difference in someone’s life. Any type of donation is appreciated by shelters, in order for them to be able to accommodate as many people as possible from harsh weather conditions.