SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Cold weather raises a number of concerns for the homeless population, local organization leaders say.
Jennifer Darsey, the executive director of the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless (CSAH), said cold temperatures can have serious health consequences for those sleeping outside, especially if they have other health conditions.
“Hypothermia is a real thing,” Darsey said. “Individuals who are out in cold weather, 20 degrees and below especially, they can get frostbite if they don’t have on the appropriate clothing. So of course, those are the first things we think about.”
CSAH doesn’t currently have its own warming shelter but helps direct people to other organizations that do. Darsey said the majority of local shelters are nearing, if not already at capacity.
Major Paul Egan with the Salvation Army said their shelter is seeing more people than last winter, but they still have beds available.
But Egan and Darsey explained that the pandemic has created challenges in trying to welcome folks inside.
“We are hoping to not go as dramatic as we have in the past during cold weather shelter times,” Egan said. “You know, kind of line the halls type of deal with cots and things of that nature. Just because of COVID and what we’ve seen there.”
Egan said as of Friday, there are no COVID cases among those seeking shelter, but there have been in the past.
For those in the community wondering how to help the homeless, Darsey said the best thing is to support the nonprofits doing the work.
“To house people and to feed them is not cheap,” Egan said. “To be able to do that, the funding is always needed.”
“What are some resources, some tangible things that would help you serve the individuals in the homeless space better and more effectively? How can we help?” Darsey said.
Earlier this week, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson announced the city has plans to create extreme weather shelters to house the homeless during both hot and cold weather events. We’re told more details will be announced as they become available.
For a list of nearby shelters, click here.