As the midday temperature climbed into the upper 90s on Monday, Wade Holton sat on an old, run-down recliner in an empty lot on Statesville Avenue, relaxing in the shade of a scraggly tree. The 67-year-old has been homeless for the last three years, but the current heat wave, he said, has brought new challenges.
The National Weather Service is forecasting extreme temperature all week in Charlotte, with Tuesday’s high expected to top 100 degrees.
For homeless residents like Holton, extreme heat is more than an inconvenience — it’s a potential health hazard.
“Plenty of water and plenty of beer,” he told QCity when asked how he usually deals with the summer heat.
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With an estimated 3,000-plus homeless residents, Mecklenburg County, in partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office and local nonprofits that assist the homeless, is offering assistance to residents looking to escape the extreme heat.
Urban Ministry, Roof Above’s day services center, is being used as a cooling station for anyone experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County.
The center has misting stations, fans, water fountains, water coolers and added indoor seating. The center continues to offer free services including lunches, laundry and showers.
Randall Hitt, the center’s director, said the center needs donated washcloths and water bottles.
“We want to make sure that we can provide as much essential services as possible, because we know it’s tough especially if you’re outside all the time,” he said.
Holton, a former landscaper, is no stranger to heat. After tearing his rotator cuff, he said, he was left unable to work.
He said Monday’s temperature, 98 degrees at its peek, was one of the hottest days he has experienced since being homeless.
Holton said he was undecided about whether he would go to a cooling stations. He said he was recently approved for housing and could have a new home soon.
“They said it will be a couple more weeks because they are working on the apartment,” he said. “So after that, I’ll be in. You won’t have to worry about me staying here anymore.”
Hitt said that while Urban Ministry will continue its services through the summer, more housing, she said, is what Charlotte really needs.
To help vulnerable residents escape the heat, CATS will provide free transportation to Urban Ministry, any Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library and other public locations designated as cooling stations.
These locations include: