When you think of homelessness, winter often automatically comes to mind as the worst time of year. It’s the thought of the perils of being cold and living on the street. The reality is, it can be tougher to be without a home during the spring season. Springtime takes a toll on the homeless population.
As spring rolls around, as flowers bloom and trees bud, people are spending more time outside, and orange construction cones line more and more city streets. People are dusting off their patio furniture, their bikes and their decks. Almost everyone seems to be happier.
While spring spells new beginnings for many, it means a new set of challenges for the homeless.
The sudden influx of people enjoying the outdoors — and rightfully so, it has been a long winter — not only means more visibility to the homeless but increased awareness of the stark contrasts between those who have and those who have not. This has an emotional impact on people living in poverty, who are homeless and isolated. The season that breaks through the emotional doom and gloom of winter for many, can often exacerbate depression in the homeless.
Increased use of the outdoors by pedestrians and pets, cyclists, cars and construction, also means increased disruption of sleep.
People who are homeless are the City’s most vulnerable and exposed. They sleep throughout the day in order to stay alive through the night. While the city sleeps, the homeless lay awake to protect themselves and their belongings.
As the weather warms, people’s attitude towards the homeless cools. The community tends to forget about, overlook or be less sympathetic towards those who are the homeless.
In the wintertime, especially during the holidays, the city is much more charitable. People donate more of their time, effort, and money to food banks and homeless shelters. They sponsor families and buy them gifts.
But what happens in the spring? When the weather grows warmer, the struggle doesn’t decrease. Quite the opposite. The struggle becomes greater for those who are homeless, for those who are viewed with less compassion and care by a community that is less charitable.
Growing temperatures means increased risks to the health of people who are homeless. Contrary to popular belief, there are most homeless deaths in the summer than the winter. While people are itching to get outdoors as much as possible, the same cannot be said for people who are homeless who must adjust to a new and unpredictable climate.
When everything you own fits into a bag or two, and must be carried with you all day, every day, the weather and the temperature take a toll.
The days are longer and the weather is arguably more dangerous. At a time when even those with homes find themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature, the homeless are especially susceptible.