GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Exposure, frostbite, and a decline in mental health.
These are some of the impacts cold weather can have on anyone, but especially people who are homeless.
“For people with chronic illnesses, this type of weather can be absolutely devestating,” says John Mok-Lamme, the Executive Director of the House. People can be in real danger when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, according to advocates for homeless people.
“It’s hard to not have a normal structure of life, and to be cold on top of it and know it doesn’t end,” says Beverly Lampley, the Communication Director of the Catholic Outreach.
But there are other issues that seem less obvious. Cold weather can lead to a rise in substance abuse. “That means tensions increase, anger increases, one on one violence is increasing. we’ve seen the increase with covid, and now this cold adds to it,” says Lampley.
Lampley says there are many ways the community can help, including donating coats and sleeping bags. But ultimately, it’s important to solve some of the root causes of homelessness.
“Let’s not be afraid of housing our neighbors. let’s build housing projects, and also, let’s make sure housing in our community is affordable,” says Mok-Lamme.