This week’s polar vortex wasn’t just a freak freeze—for some it was deadly. Al Jazeera America reports at least 20 deaths across the United States from the weather, and some cases in which people experiencing homelessness struggled to find cover. Despite orders to keep shelters open 24 hours this week, many lacked access, facing limited space and police harassment for taking their own refuge. This research from warmer times help shed light on the issue.
Why would people experiencing homelessness refuse shelters in some cases? They are often trapped between policies which treat them as criminals for making their own shelter and sick if they seek help.
- Teresa Gowan. 2010. Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
When the weather gets bad, it feels like us against the world. However, social policy often determines who becomes a “victim” of a natural disaster.
- Eric Klinenberg. 2002. Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.