Homelessness is a global problem. Unpredictable and harsh conditions create unique challenges in each climate for people living without shelter. Even the weather here in Tennessee can be challenging to the homeless population.
Although the specific focus of Becoming Fools is concerned with homeless youth in Guatemala City, but our hope is that Becoming Fools would inspire people to action in their local communities around the world. With this blog, and many to follow, we hope to educate and encourage people not only in Nashville and Guatemala, but people in Michigan, people in Canada, people in Australia, Oregon, California and all around the world to join the movement in making a difference in this struggle.
Hot or Cold?
Which is worse? The freezing cold, or the sweltering heat? I think even my Mom and I disagree on this question because everyone has their own preference and tolerance. But which condition is more dangerous for someone living on the streets? The answer to this question greatly depends on where you live. Here in Tennessee, where we experience true seasons, both could be similarly threatening to those in the streets. Nashville Rescue Mission mentions the often-overlooked dangers of extreme heat:
In contrast to those families planning summer vacations, the homeless are faced with survival concerns: how to stay cool and how to stay hydrated. The homeless can be particularly vulnerable to heat waves because they cannot easily take steps to protect themselves, such as staying in air-conditioned places, avoiding direct sun and drinking plenty of water. Some of those living on the streets might be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or suffering from mental illness and are not thinking clearly. Add this to heat and dehydration and you have a lethal combination.
In Howell, Michigan the United Methodist Church opens their doors to the homeless during the winter to provide food and shelter from harsh weather. The combination of below-freezing temperatures and snow in Northern states present often fatal conditions.
Although each season presents it’s own unique set of challenges to people living in the streets, all require assistance. Next time you adjust the thermostat in your home, think twice about what it would be like to not have one. As Nashville Rescue Mission puts it, “Those with low or fixed incomes are also at risk. Many of them are forced to choose between eating or turning on their air conditioner”.