Supporting the Unhoused Community During Summer
As the summer sun casts its warm glow upon us, many of us eagerly anticipate vacations, outdoor gatherings, and leisurely activities. However, amidst the cheerful vibes, it’s vital that we turn our attention towards a group often forgotten during this season—the unhoused community. The scorching temperatures and unique challenges of summer make it even more crucial to extend our help and support those who lack stable shelter. In this post, we will explore why our unhoused neighbors require our assistance during the summer months, and how we can make a positive impact.
- The Impact of Extreme Heat:
During summer, soaring temperatures can create life-threatening conditions for individuals without shelter. Exposure to excessive heat can lead to dehydration, heatstroke, and other heat-related illnesses. Moreover, certain medications and health conditions make individuals more susceptible to these risks. By providing access to cooling centers, water, sunscreen, and appropriate resources, we can help prevent heat-related emergencies and ensure the well-being of our unhoused neighbors.
- Limited Access to Basic Necessities:
The summer months intensify the struggle for those experiencing homelessness, as they face difficulties accessing basic necessities. Adequate hydration, hygiene supplies, and nutritious food become even more critical during hot weather. People need housing. Friendship Place offers refuge for those seeking relief through several different programs to help people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness find and keep stable housing. Our drop-in Welcome Center is one of many programs that can alleviate the challenges faced by unsheltered neighbors during summer.
- Increased Health Risks:
Lack of shelter and proper sanitation facilities can exacerbate health risks within the unhoused community. In addition to heat-related illnesses, the spread of infectious diseases, such as skin infections and vector-borne diseases, becomes a concern. Raising awareness about proper hygiene practices, providing access to clean water, and facilitating medical assistance can help mitigate these risks and improve overall health outcomes.
- Emotional Well-being:
The summer season often amplifies feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those without stable housing. While others enjoy family vacations and social gatherings, our unhoused community can feel excluded and disconnected. Friendship Place’s programs offer activities that foster a sense of belonging, such as community events, art and fitness classes, activities for engagement and connection, and supporting mental health services, that can make a significant difference in emotional well-being.
- Empathy and Community Building:
Supporting the unhoused community during summer is not just about meeting their immediate needs; it’s also about cultivating empathy and building a compassionate community. By engaging in conversations, dispelling stigmas, and advocating for long-term solutions, we can address the root causes of homelessness and work towards creating a society that values and supports all its members.
How We Can Help
- Offer a bottle of water
Dehydration is a major threat to those that are unsheltered. Water is a life-saving essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. In hot weather, the risk of dehydration increases significantly due to excessive sweating and increased fluid loss.
- Direct people to your nearest cooling center: click here for the map.
When the temperature or heat index in the District reaches 95 degrees, District Government, through the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), will implement the Heat Emergency Plan and activate cooling centers for residents to seek relief. Periods of high heat and humidity can cause medical problems such as heat exhaustion and stroke.
Persons in need of transportation to a cooling center should call 202-399-7093 or dial 311.
- Offer items that can help people stay cool.
Hand fans, hats, spray bottles, and umbrellas are some items to help keep people cool. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that can occur when the body is unable to cool itself effectively.
While summer means great fun for most of us, let us not forget the vulnerable members of our community who endure the hardships of homelessness. By recognizing the unique challenges they face during this season and taking action, we can make a difference in their lives. Whether it’s through donations, volunteering, or advocating for systemic change, our collective efforts can provide relief, restore dignity, and foster a sense of hope for our unsheltered neighbors. Together, let us extend a caring hand, and ensure that nobody is left behind during these hot summer months.