What Do You Do About Sweltering Shelters?

Temperature May 18

Thankfully, the temperature has dropped today. However, for three days this week, the temperatures soared into the high 80s and low 90s. My shelter room was sweltering.

During the Summer of 2016, I was in a shelter that had central air. Although the rooms were kept relatively cool on the days the central air was working and turned on, there was a downside to having central air in that particular shelter; the cornucopia of drug fumes that came through the vents were astounding. Shelter administrators said there was nothing they could do about the noxious drug fumes coming through the vents because it was likely coming from several different rooms, and blowing through the ventilation system.

The shelter that I am currently in has no cooling system, although the drug aroma is ubiquitously present. During the hot weather, the room got unbearably hot and stuffy. It was too uncomfortable to sleep. I wonder what The Department of Homeless Services prescribes in this situation. Are residents allowed to purchase air conditioners? If so, is that feasible given the transient nature of being a homeless shelter resident? What about residents who can’t afford such accoutrements, if they are allowed? What do they do to escape the unbearable heat and stuffiness? How does one live under such suffocating conditions during the summer months, or even during a heat wave?

I hope the weather remains cool for as long as possible.

-The HMLS New Yorker

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