Homeless people face many dangers when living on the street, especially in winter. It can be difficult to find somewhere safe and warm to sleep at night without risking a trespassing charge or getting frostbite. In the United States, hypothermia can set in at temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
For some, a shelter is the only place where they can stay at night in the cold weather. Often, homeless shelters are full in the winter. This is because many homeless shelters will open when the temperature dips below a certain level.
When a shelter opens, there are usually cots placed in a large room or arena type location. While these shelters are better than being outside, they can be uncomfortable for those who are used to sleeping on the streets.
In some cases, homeless people are able to stay at family members’ houses. However, this isn’t a viable option for everyone. Family may not agree to let them stay at their house if they aren’t actively looking for work or trying to get back on their feet.
Rest stops are another great place for the homeless to sleep. Usually located off freeway exit ramps, they are designed to allow the homeless to spend the night while trying to figure out a more permanent place to live. Industrial areas are also good places for the homeless to sleep at night. These areas are often fenced off and have a person at the entrance in high visibility vest who greets visitors.