From Sacramento’s populated urban streets to the remote back-roads of the country, hypothermia – or subnormal temperature in the body – remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing homelessness.
On Nov. 20, a 63-year-old homeless man was found dead wrapped up in blankets, possibly from the harsh elements of the rain and cold weather, Fishes and Loaves reported. The deceased man was once the focus of a story about warming centers.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless’ published “Winter Homeless Services: Bringing Our Neighbors in from the Cold,” 700 Seven people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States.
Forty-four percent of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered.
With the National Weather Service forecasting temperatures below 33 degrees this week, the city of Sacramento, in coordination with the County of Sacramento and the Sacramento Public Library, will open a warming center to help unsheltered residents cope with the cold weather.
The warming center, at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria (828 I St.), will operate from 9 p.m. Dec. 29 to 6 a.m. Dec. 30, offering a place for people to be indoors as well as snacks and warm beverages.
“According to the National Weather Service, nighttime temperatures could dip down to 32 degrees on Tuesday night,” said Daniel Bowers, the City’s director of emergency management. “This warming center will provide people with a safe, comfortable place where they can rest.”
The City worked with Sacramento County Public Health on the temperature thresholds for activating the warming center. Temperatures are expected to increase starting Dec. 30, 2020.
In accordance with State and County public-health orders, all attendees at the warming center are required to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19 (unless they are sleeping).
If an individual does not have a mask, one will be provided for them. Resting spaces will be set 12 feet apart from one another to ensure proper social distancing and will be separated by partitions.
To access the warming center, attendees should use the Galleria patio entrance located on 9th Street between I and J streets.
In general, the City subscribes to the Sacramento region’s Severe Weather Guidance plan, which outlines specific temperatures and time periods required to open both warming and cooling centers.
The plan was created by Sacramento County health officials, homeless advocates and the National Weather Service.
Temperatures this winter have not yet hit the thresholds specified by the plan for opening warming centers, which include forecasts of extremely cold/freezing weather for more than three days accompanied by nighttime temperatures of 32 degrees or less.
In addition to activating warming centers when temperatures fall below 33 degrees during a 24-hour period — a threshold recommended by Sacramento County Public Health — the City has created a motel voucher program to assist unsheltered residents during colder months.