Houston's White-Hot Summers Are Most Dangerous For Area Homeless

stock.xchng photo
Triple digit temperatures are in the forecast for this weekend — and that has local homeless providers concerned. In Houston — the most dangerous time of year for the homeless is the summer.

It's the time of year when Houstonians start plotting their dash from one air conditioned location to another. But for those living on the streets, the options to cool off and stay safe are limited.

Scott Arthur is the Public Relations Director at the Star of Hope Homeless Shelter.

He says many of the homeless men and women on the streets have mental illnesses and don't realize the danger they may be in from the heat.

"This afternoon we were out in a park and we were talking to probably about 50 or 60 of the men. And we said today it's going to be about 100 or 102 or 103 maybe tomorrow. And that meant nothing to them. To them it was just going to be hot, it was just going to be another hot day."

Arthur says they explain the dangers of the heat and the importance of staying in the shade or finding shelter, but they aren't always able to convince people to come inside.

Even so, both the men's and women and children's shelters are at  critical capacity, with every bed taken and people sleeping on the floor.

"Houston is an incredibly generous town, especially during the holidays. But they don't understand that regarding the homeless, summer is our most important time. That's when we get the biggest population and the least amount of donations."

Arthur says shelter employees and volunteers are handing out bottled water to the homeless all weekend. 

The City of Houston also offers cooling centers during the summer months at its multi-service centers and libraries.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...