To say that we are experiencing a cold snap is an understatement…temperatures are in the single digits with below zero wind chills. These lows can be deadly — especially to those who are spending time outside.
People who are experiencing homelessness are spending a lot of time in the cold temperatures. Although LTHC Homeless Services has been staying open later in the evenings so there isn’t a gap of time until the singles’ shelter opens, there are still people who cannot or will not go into shelter for the night. Our Case Managers use all available supplies — socks, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and sleeping bags, socks, hand and foot warmers, boots — for the homeless clients to have some relief.
The risk of frostbite in severe cold is the significant concern although the cold poses a risk for the human body in other ways — heart and respiratory functions can be impacted as can the body’s ability to fight infection. The bitter cold is also harmful to a person’s mental health and the risk of depression is heightened. West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis has shared a story when he was a police officer, he met a homeless man who apologized in advance for planning to hit him because the man just wanted to go somewhere warm.
This week, the staff at LTHC Homeless Services estimates there are between 25-30 adults living outside. While they have warm options during the day, our Homeless Services Program opens at 7:30 am, they have limited overnight options. While they are in the HSP during the day, we provide not only a break from the outdoors but also hot food and hot showers.
LTHC is hopeful that our vision of a 24/7 Engagement Center will be fulfilled in 2017 so that there is no time restrictions on being indoors in weather like this. We invite you to keep an eye on our website and social media (like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter) to learn more about this initiative after the first of the year.
In the meantime, stay warm.