Extreme cold in Halifax prompts urgent outreach for homeless
Cash donations needed for weather emergencies, says worker
February 2, 2023, 4:25 pm ASTLast Updated: February 2, 2023, 6:56 pm
A Halifax organization that helps people living on the street is facing increased demand ahead of a harsh cold snap on Friday.
“Honestly, I’m scared,” said Kat Stein, program manager for Out of the Cold Community Association. “There are just, inevitably, some people who fall through the cracks of what is kind of a broken system.”
The association provides housing and is asking for donations for its street outreach budget to deal with weather emergencies.
An extreme cold warning was issued by Environment Canada Thursday with “bitterly cold conditions” expected. The temperature is set to plunge below -24 C Friday night, with windchill values of -35 C to -42 C predicted by the weather agency.
Since making an Instagram post on Tuesday asking for donations, the charity has received a strong response from community members, according to Stein. While donations are coming in, Stein said more is needed to provide clothing and bedding for those sleeping outdoors.
Out of the Cold houses 63 residents between two Dartmouth and Halifax locations, while providing for “countless” visitors during the day. It’s currently seeking cash donations, as well as blankets, tents and sleeping bags.
While supplies are helpful, Stein said cash donations are most useful.
“If we know that someone outside needs a specific thing, and that’s going to help them survive this weather … we can go out immediately and get it for that person,” they said.
The cold snap will be short-lived, said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.
“This is going to be a one-and-a-half-day wonder and it’s going to be gone,” said Phillips. “It’s going to hit and run.”
Homeless people face an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia, according to Health Canada, and wind chill temperature of -27 C is considered extreme cold.
“You don’t need a week of cold temperatures to produce hypothermia, you just need a few hours of it,” said Phillips. “So even this cold that will sort of come and go can produce some very serious health issues for people who are outdoors.”
Phillips predicts temperatures will stabilize and remain seasonal for the remainder of February, though he isn’t ruling out the possibility of another cold burst.
“I don’t think we can write the obituary of winter weather quite yet.”
Over the weekend, warming centres will be located at:
2380 Gottingen Street
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Showers and snacks available)
St. Matthew’s Church
1479 Barrington Street
Friday 5 p.m. to Sunday 9 a.m.
123 Metropolitan Avenue
Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 7 a.m.
Eastern Shore Emergency Warming Shelter
Old School Gathering Place
7962 Nova Scotia Trunk 7
Friday 4 p.m. to Sunday 6 p.m.
Have a story idea? Let us know