How local organizations help the homeless population manage the heat

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With temperatures hanging in the triple digits this week the homeless population is more vulnerable.

Some say the hotter days are harder than the cold ones, at times, for those who have nowhere to go.

People living in the homeless population face a number of obstacles like dehydration, lack of sleep and fatigue.

“When it’s brisk I could walk 2 miles fast! But I could walk 2 miles. When it’s like this, 2 miles is hard to walk. So that tiredness is a big one we see,” explained Sister Kathleen Atkinson, the director for Ministry on the Margins.

“Those are the types of things that pose real dangers to the homeless. When they’re walking long distances outside in this horrible heat,” said Jena Gullo, the executive director for Missouri Slope Area Wide United Way.

Bismarck’s United Way Emergency Homeless Shelter Welcome House says that in the summer months they see an increase, with July being the busiest month.

“I think there’s just more people in North Dakota during the summer. More people looking for work. And more people seeking refuge during that time. Our numbers again this week are the highest they’ve been all year round. We’re serving more than 50 people every single night,” explained Gullo.

Ministry on the Margins has also added cooling hours to its daily programs, opening up their space to people to take a break from the sun and enjoy some cool air.

“So we have opened up from 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when it starts to hit 100 right now. Until 8. Last night though it was still 95 at 8 o’clock. So we’ll keep open until it gets cool enough for people to go back out,” shared Atkinson.

Ministry on the Margins not only provides refreshments but also has activities for people to enjoy.

Sister Atkinson says during hotter days people tend to look for shelter in public areas in order to keep cool.

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