2/25/2010 12:00 AM
Individuals without shelter face added obstacles in the winter months; hypothermia is the cause of death for nearly 700 homeless individuals annually. So what are shelters doing to counteract these critical conditions for the homeless?
The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) published a report titled Winter Homeless Services: Bringing Our Neighbors in from the Cold
to explain the need for increased winter services for homeless individuals as well as provide insight on what shelters are already doing to help (follow the link to read the entire report).
During the winter months, shelters are pressed to offer more space and increased services as the cold causes life-threatening health issues. Homeless individuals are especially susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite and complications from exposure-related conditions because of malnutrition, existing illness, or clothes unsuitable for the cold. All of these factors are easily attended to with shelter services.
What the NCH found was that a majority of shelters do adapt their services in some way for winter conditions. Many increase their hours of operation or open up specifically during the winter season. A large percentage of shelters surveyed offer extra beds, cots, or sleeping bags during winter to accommodate the increased number of guests.
Hope House is open twenty-fours a day, year round, regardless of temperature or weather conditions. We also increase the number of beds available during the winter months to accommodate the increased demand for shelter. We offer three meals a day, warm clothing and blankets, and connection to health services for our guests in order to alleviate some of the burdens faced by homeless individuals.
The NCH recommends that all cities create and fund “winter response plans” to fully accommodate homelessness in winter. The NCH suggests that shelters open their doors to all homeless individuals twenty four hours a day, without temperature limitations, throughout a winter season defined as October through April.
So what can you do to help? Be aware of the resources in your community—check out a list of Milwaukee shelters
. Know where to direct those in need. Know the signs of hypothermia and how to reduce the risk of exposure—check page six of the NCH report
for a brief overview. Support Hope House—help us continue providing comprehensive services 365 days a year by donating here