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North Texas Homeless Residents Suffer In The Heatwave

While rehousing has increased over the last four years, those still living on the streets of Texas face life-threatening conditions
Photo: Laszlo66 | Shutterstock

The high temperatures Texans are experiencing are reaching the record-breaking numbers of the hottest summer in the state’s history, 2011. And the sweltering weather brings concerns of heat-related deaths. While the CDC, doctors and first responders release warnings, the most vulnerable people are those with no shelter to flee the relentless heat.

In their one-night annual census this year, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance found 4,410 people living in the streets of Dallas and Collin Counties. And although the organization states that this is the lowest count since 2019 and the counties scaling of permanent housing solutions is working, the most concerning figure comes from the chronically homeless population which has doubled since 2019.

MDHA data on homeless population in Dallas
MDHA's 2022 census results at a glance

Waine Walker, founder of OurCalling, a non-profit organization focused on aiding the homeless population in Dallas told Dallas Observer, "We've already had two heat-related deaths this week. We are seeing significant health issues … heat exhaustion and potential heat stroke with folks."

The organization started a campaign asking for donations to create “Beat the Heat” kits that include sunblock and lip balm, sunglasses, hats, reusable and insulated water bottles, and instant cooling towels. “Those are items, really, not just to provide immediate relief,” said Walker, “but also [to] build in relational equity so we can really help with the placement process and get people off the streets.”

It’s not only adults who are vulnerable. The organization Elevate North Texas has issued a call to action, asking for donations to shelter youth in crisis after two people on their waiting list were hospitalized.

With temperatures up acros the country, this is a widespread problem. Last June, The Mercury reported that hundreds of homeless people died in Phoenix during this heatwave and many cities across USA are taking action to prevent more weather-related casualties.

In Dallas, the Office of Homeless Solutions provided a map of the various cooling stations throughout the city, and Plano has made all libraries except Harrington, available cooling stations.

As of now, the Dallas OHS encourages residents to help the homeless population by passing out water and giving directions for the nearest cooling station.