Maine Heat Wave Especially Worrying For Those Experiencing Homelessness

Jul 18, 2019

Advocates for people experiencing homelessness are taking precautions as a heat wave is predicted to hit the state this weekend.

Credit Bangor Area Homeless Shelter

Boyd Kronholm, executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, which operates at close to 100 percent capacity year round, says that right now the shelter could use donations of bottled water.

"So we can pass them out to people who aren't staying here, and of course we have unlimited water for the people who are staying here from our tap,” says Kronholm. “Our day room is open from 8 to 4 whether someone is staying here or not, so we have heat pumps that help keep it a little cool, so they're free to come to get out of the heat at that point."

Kronholm says the summertime presents a host of difficulties for those living outdoors, including severe sunburns and trying to stay clean. The shelter recently made a public appeal for deodorant, but he says what they have will not last very long.

Donna Yellen, the deputy director at Preble Street in Portland, says her organization plans to provide plenty of fresh drinking water for anyone who comes to the resource center to escape the heat, but she says that she is unaware of any widespread push to create community cooling centers or extra shelter during the heatwave, as might be done during a cold snap. In fact, she says it is a lot easier to get donations and volunteers during winter, especially around the holidays.

"People don't think of summer time being a hard time to be homeless, but in fact it is,” says Yellen. “Many people don't realize the numbers of people experiencing homelessness are highest in the summer."

Many people come to the area in the busy summer months hoping to find employment, says Yellen, and she says the shelter tends to see more homeless families in the summer as well. Representatives from both shelters say they are especially in need of donations of sunscreen, mosquito and tick repellent, personal care products such as deodorant, and drinking water.

A list of centers from the Maine Emergency Management Agency will be updated as the day goes on.