Does Climate Change Impact the Homeless?


It may not seem like climate change would have an impact on the homeless, but the reality is much more startling.

America has been experiencing some strange weather lately. Between patches of California getting hotter than they have in a long time and the hurricanes that are sweeping up the South, we’ve seen the clear and distinct impacts that climate change can have on the weather. It makes a difference in each of our daily lives, and while we have many modern amenities to help combat the changing weather patterns, those who don’t have access to such resources are truly feeling it. When we talk about climate change, it’s critical that we think about everyone it’s impacting–and that includes the homeless population.

Climate-Proof Cities

During heat waves, or even ordinary summers now, we’re seeing higher temperatures than ever before. In some places, like Phoenix, Arizona, this can have dramatic effects on those who don’t have regular access to air-conditioned shelter. Shelters typically see a spike in visitors during extreme heat waves and there’s no wonder that we see a spike in deaths caused by exposure during these times. Some are seeking to climate-proof their cities by adding more air-conditioned resources to help give the homeless population relief, but is it enough?

Staying Hydrated

During these times of extreme heat, it’s also important that we stay hydrated. This can be especially difficult for the homeless who have to carry their possessions with them everywhere, as water can actually be pretty heavy. For some, they’re forced to stay near water supplies to have regular refills. Access to water for a homeless person can be the difference between life or death during a major heat wave, so it’s critical that we give them the resources they need.

Other Climate Change Threats

A 2009 study by Brodie Ramin and Tomislav Svoboda took a look into the impacts of climate change the homeless. They noted that typically, homeless people are more likely to occupy marginal areas. These spaces are also more vulnerable to environmental hazards such as floods or storms which could be incredibly dangerous. There’s also far more air pollution in areas that the homeless are likely to be in which could lead to lung or heart disease. Extreme weather events can overwhelm vulnerable people so it’s important that we realize climate change is causing more extreme weather events, thus causing more health risks for homeless people.

Talk to My Brother’s Keeper About Helping in Baltimore

To learn more about our youth programs, Attendance Affirmation Project, how to help, or to find out more about our services including hot meal programs, employment assistance, health services and identifying possible emergency shelter, call MBK today at 410-644-3194. You can also follow our official MBK page on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, to stay up to date on our center’s progress and upcoming events in the community.

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