Hot weather hydration station for homeless opens during sweltering heat and COVID
Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will launch its hot weather outreach on the hottest days of the summer amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic beginning July 20.
“We will open the hydration station, when temperatures reach 80 degrees or above,” says Men’s Shelter Director Scott Cleveland. “The hydration station will be stocked full of cool water, sunscreen and operate from noon to 3 p.m. in front of our shelter for anyone who stops by.”
The Mission is also witnessing a stark change of reality for the homeless in the four months since the pandemic surged.
Seattle’s homeless population faces a disproportionate challenge to accessing much-needed water during the heat in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge of masks, sanitization, and limited accessibility to establishments like restaurants and public buildings creates a greater barrier to staying hydrated.
“You can't go into a restaurant, especially with the COVID-19 going on, so anytime you guys come through with water, we're like, 'Yes. Yes, please,' because it’s essential,” says Brelan, living on the street.
The Mission’s Search + Rescue team is also ramping up to go out and meet the needs of homeless people who will not be in shelters during the heat of the day or are living in their cars and make-shift encampments.
“We are supplying more Gatorade and water than ever before. That sandwich we give out is a life or death sandwich now. The gratitude and need that we are seeing right now is overwhelming. People really need help right now, they're scared and have very few options," says Director of Outreach Brian Chandler.
“It's so hard out here to stay hydrated and to have clean water,” says Brelan, who lives on the streets of Seattle. “You can't go into a restaurant, they're not wanting to give you water, especially with the COVID-19 going on, so anytime you guys come through with water, we're like, 'Yes. Yes, please,' because it’s essential.”
Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, sun burn as well as over-heated vehicles, campers and tents make the summer heat a health threat for those who are homeless.
“We will provide sunscreen, lip balm, hats to keep them safe and hydrated,” says Chandler. “The Mission will care for our homeless neighbors during the heat as safely and effectively as we can, following all CDC and Seattle Health Department guidelines. The pandemic doesn’t change that.”
Our homeless neighbors are scared and they have very few options in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please, will you help now?