- Cold temperatures can be life threatening, especially to the homeless population.
- The polar vortex that’s brought below-freezing temperatures to many major cities in the US has already led to a number of deaths.
- There are roughly 553,000 homeless people in the US on any given night, and approximately 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans.
- There are a number of ways you can help at-risk populations during cold weather events.
The polar vortex that’s brought blistering temperatures to many parts of the US, especially states in the Midwest, has already claimed at least 11 lives.
This weather event is life-threatening, especially to folks without proper shelter.
There are a little less than 553,000 homeless people in the US, according to a December 2018 report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and roughly224 million people nationwide have been hit with below-freezing temperatures this week.
Chicago, Illinois, alone has a homeless population of roughly 80,000. Temperatures in Chicago dipped to 21 degrees below zero on Thursday morning.
Veterans account for a disproportionate number of adult homeless people in the US. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, roughly 11 per cent of the adult homeless population are veterans.
As much of the nation struggles to keep warm during the polar vortex, here’s how you can help populations that are most at risk.
Call 311 to connect with homeless outreach teams
Many major US cities, including including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC, have hotlines under the number 311 you can call if you see someone on the street who might need help. The number can help connect you with homeless outreach teams.
Dialling 211 can also help link people with community services. This service is available to roughly 270 million people, or about 90% of the US population, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Donate clothing and other supplies to emergency shelters
Many homeless people turn up to shelters without proper clothing during a time where a proper coat can make all the difference. If you’re able to, donating warm clothing to local shelters and organisations can be a major help amid extreme weather events and low temperatures.
Click here for help finding donation centres in your area. Many of these organisations are willing to pick up donations from your residence, which you can often schedule online.
Putting together care packages and keeping them in your vehicle to hand out can also be extremely helpful. Warm items like gloves, socks, hats, scarves, and blankets are especially useful, as well as shelf-safe food, Nancy Powers with the Salvation Army’s Chicago Freedom Center told CNN.
There are specific resources for veterans you can direct people to
Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, which is available 24/7 and is run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans can also help you locate local services for veterans. Click here to find an organisation in your area.
Donate money to a charity
If you’re able to donate money to a charity for the homeless, a little can go a long way.
Below are over a dozen organisations that were given four out of four stars by Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit that rates charities based on their financial management and accountability.
Here are links to their websites:
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