Valley homeless shelters reaching out to help people survive extreme heat

'I felt like I was dying on the street... People don't realize that when you are homeless there is nowhere to go during the day'

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ByNico Payne via KFSN logo
Friday, September 2, 2022
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As record-breaking heat sweeps the Valley, local organizations are working to accommodate a likely rise in people at homeless shelters seeking relief.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As sustained triple digit temperatures continue across the Valley, local organizations are working to accommodate a likely rise in people at shelters seeking relief from the heat.

The Povorello House has some new features to help combat the heat.

The hot black top is now shaded and includes fans and power outlets. It also has teams in place to help people find cooler locations.

"Right now, Poverello House is distributing over 2,000 bottles of water daily," says CEO Zack Darrah. "Our street outreach team is going out seven days a week. We transport to all of the City of Fresno cooling centers, and we will also provide transportation back."

Administrators who once experienced homelessness themselves shared some insight on what people are up against in this extreme climate.

"Being out, being exposed that long without shelter, you realized pretty quickly that it's taking a toll on you. For me, I felt like I was dying on the street just being exposed to the elements... and getting off the street is paramount to me being alive five years later," says employee Charles McCall.

This year's Point-in-Time Homeless Count showed an increase in people experiencing homelessness.

Advocates say they expect those numbers to rise amid the near record-breaking temperatures in the days ahead.

"There are less people so to speak living on the streets because more people are in shelter beds, but the truth is that homelessness has risen year over year," says Darrah.

Adds McCall:

"That's the one thing that kind of pushed me over the edge and got me into treatment, and got me off the street. People don't realize that when you are homeless on the street there is nowhere to go during the day."

When temperatures reach around 105 degrees is when cooling centers are activated.

For a list of cooling centers open in Fresno and the rest of the Valley, click here.