shelters close, leaving homeless in cold: Glendale, CA case FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 11:20:42 -0700 (PDT)


FWD  Friday, April 17, 1998

OUT IN THE COLD [Glendale, California]

While extra money keeps homeless shelters open this month on sub-40 degree
nights, it's little comfort when temperatures hover just above the cutoff
point.

By DONNA HUFFAKER

     PACIFIC-EDISON ~ Additional funds for the Glendale Cold-Wet Weather
Shelter don't mean much when the doors are closed. And the doors have been
closed the last three nights.
     Run by the Pasadena-based Institute for Urban Research and
Development, the shelter at the National Guard Armory is open this month
when the temperature is forecast to be 40 degrees or lower and there is a
50% chance of rain, said Stacey Rowe, coordinator of homeless programs for
the city of Glendale.
     The shelter should have closed for the season on March 31, but because
of continuing cold and wet weather, funds were made available from the
county to keep the shelter open through April on days it's necessary, she
said.
      While 41-degree days may not necessitate keeping the shelter doors
open, they can still be hazardous to your health.
     Temperatures in Glendale, which will climb into the 70s for the
weekend, dipped to 39 degrees overnight Tuesday and Wednesday, said
Vladimir Ryshko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
     The shelter was closed because the forecast didn't predict the low
temperature.
     "The ground is cold and hard and bad for my back; I got a bad back,"
37-year-old Christopher Lee Quarters said Thursday.
     He thanked Holy Family Catholic Church for taking him and others in
Wednesday night.
     The Rev. Glenn Sequeira said the church opened its doors to 30
homeless people Tuesday night and 12 Wednesday night, allowing them to
sleep on the pews. The church is not a shelter, Sequeira said, but it does
the best it can.
     The church lets them sleep, with staff members taking turns
supervising them, until 5:30 a.m. when officials ready the building for
morning Mass. They may stay for Mass but usually don't, Sequeira said.
     Rolling a cigarette while sitting on the corner of Windsor Road and
Central Avenue, Quarters said he has been a transient for 18 years and is
used to looking for vacant corners to sleep in.
     "They're getting harder to find," he said. "There's so many of us in
Glendale."
     Although Quarters uses a wool blanket to try to stay warm, sleeping on
cold, damp concrete can lead to hypothermia, said Dr. Edmond Noll, an
emergency room physician at Glendale Memorial Hospital.
     He said he treats many transients for exposure to the cold.
     Wind and wet weather are as much a factor in hypothermia as chilly air
temperature, said Noll.
     A homeless person wearing damp clothes, whose blood doesn't circulate
well because he or she stays in one position all night, is likely to get
hypothermia in 50-degree weather, he said.
     Typically, they don't eat well or drink enough water, and recent rainy
weather may have forced them to wear clothes that never dried out ~ these
are all ways to get hypothermia, said Noll. It is a misconception to think
only low temperatures cause hypothermia, he said.
     Hypothermal or not, Quarters and a man who called himself Craig said
without the church, transients would "freeze their rear ends off," as
Quarters put it.
     The weather will be mostly clear and breezy, with winds reaching 25
mph, through Friday, with a high of 74 and a low of 44 degrees. No rain is
expected through the weekend.
     The Glendale Cold-Wet Weather Shelter is located at 220 E. Colorado
St. It is open 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. depending on the weather forecasts.
To find out if the shelter will be open, call: 1-800-954-0001

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