Street homeless are at risk this winter

“Without people like you I would be at 52 out there “in” “out” and “on” the street from place to place trying to stay safe and trying to survive.”
– Coalition client

It’s been a frigid year for Floridians, with temperatures dipping into the lower 30’s. So far this winter, Coalition for the Homeless has declared 24 cold nights, meaning we will not refuse anyone seeking shelter from the cold, regardless of space.

Although cold night shelter at the Coalition provides the homeless in Central Florida a warm place to stay, many homeless across the nation still struggle through the harsh winter. As stated in our previous blog, forty-four percent of the homeless remain unsheltered throughout the winter, which puts the homeless at a much higher risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

In addition to dangerous weather conditions, proper nutrition among the homeless is often neglected.  For the majority of homeless individuals and families struggling to survive on the streets, finding nutritious food is not able to remain a top priority. Lack of healthy food options can have long term effects on the homeless, who often experience headaches, nausea, anemia and a higher risk of coughs, fevers and colds. Because of these risks, those living on the street are estimated to be three to six times more likely to become ill than persons who are housed.

Cold temperatures, malnutrition and overall rough outdoor living conditions contribute to an increase in death rate among the homeless living on the streets. With help from a new tool called the Vulnerability Index, the city of Denver, CO discovered a shocking 44 percent of their homeless are at risk of dying if left on the streets during the winter cold.

During the last fiscal year, Coalition for the Homeless provided safe shelter, nutritious meals and medical service referrals to almost 4,200 men, women and children. By providing these services, the Coalition is helping ensure that Central Florida’s homeless are healthy and ready to work toward self-sufficiency.