Looking for Shade: Summer Months Tough On Homeless Looking to Beat the Heat

There seems to be a misconception as to the needs of the homeless during the summer months here in Boston. Day after day I hear people state that the summer is an easy time for the homeless. After hearing statements such as those I feel obligated to inform them as to how rough things really are for the homeless out there during this time of year.
With New England temperatures that get into the triple digets, the city can be a cruel place to try to find shelter from the baking sun. The homeless don’t have the luxury of an air conditioned office or home. The homeless often try to find a shaded area, which in the city there is not too many to speak of, never mind the fact of when they do find one, there is a chance that police officers could easily make them move because of trespassing or loitering laws, sending them back into the hot sun in pursuit of another unoccupied shaded area.
When the temperature rises, people seem to pass by those panhandlers more often even though many are trying to collect enough to get something cold to drink. It is way too easy to get dehydrated when you sit in the blazing sun with a cup in hand. Dehydration is a common issue for the homeless during the summer and is seen on a daily basis at our local hospitals at the expense of taxpayers. The American Medical Society of Sports Medicine estimates the Average Cost for IV fluids at Ironman events is around a thousand dollars, Something that could be so easily avoided by a $1.00 bottle of water at your local 7-11.
For the third consecutive year, the number of homeless families in Boston has increased. In the last annual census of the city’s homeless population, city officials counted 3,084 people in homeless shelters, a 17 percent rise over 2006. While the number of homeless individuals – those without families in tow – declined by nearly 5 percent, the city’s overall homeless population rose to 6,091 people, or 4 percent more than in 2006.
The only problem i have with these figures is that it only counts those staying within shelters on the night(s) of the census count. What about those homeless individuals that refuse to stay in shelters for one reason or another? Or those whom are denied a bed due to overcrowding, which to be honest is more common than not, even in the summer months.
Now with that said, the summer also brings out more and more scam artists determined to take advantage of people’s generosity towards those that are truley homeless. It makes it harder for you to truly know who is homeless from those who are not. When you give one of these frauds your pocket change, it takes away from those truly in need of your support. In past issues of Spare Change News, I have talked more in depth on this issue and even exposed a few of the more chronic scam artists out there on the streets. However, there is no way to truly weed out all of them. Remember they learned how to dress the part and know exactly what to say. Every now and then, even I fall prey to their well played scams.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t give a person a hand out every now and then, in fact I’m saying the total opposite- but just be a little leery of whom you give it to.
If you see a person that you believe is homeless passed out this summer, don’t just assume that their passed out drunk, see if they need something cold to drink or medical attention. Let’s bring a little compassion back to Boston.

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