The extreme heat broiling the American West poses heightened dangers for unhoused people. Monsoonal humidity in California makes it harder to cool down overnight, the LA Times reports. Even though 35% humidity levels in Southern California are far lower than elsewhere in the country, it diminishes the body’s ability to cool down overnight. “Nighttime is the only break we get,” Anthony Wainscott, who lives on the streets of Palmdale, with his dog Roscoe, told the LA Times. “And even then it’s way too hot.”
In Portland, Oregon, recent heatwaves made worse by climate change are exacerbating housing insecurity crises already worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Years of police tactics targeting unhoused populations discourage people from seeking shelter indoors out of fear that police will confiscate their possessions and clear housing encampments as they have done in the past.
“There will be more heatwaves, if not this year then next, and there will very likely be dangerous wildfire seasons,” Scott Kerman, the executive director of Blanchet House, a nonprofit group that provides free meals, housing, and other services to unhoused and housing-insecure Portlanders, told Grist. “And people are trying to say that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but for people who’ve lived on the street this whole year and experienced both the climate crisis and this health crisis, things may never get back to normal.” (California: LA Times; Portland: Grist; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)