Mouse (left) hands water to Cuba (right) outside the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
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Mouse (left) hands water to Cuba (right) outside the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Credit: Courtesy of Union Gospel Misison/Emma Lee

Hot weather puts Seattle homeless at risk

On days when it’s 85 degrees or higher, the Seattle Union Gospel Mission sets up a pop-up stand outside the men’s shelter in Pioneer Square.

It's got supplies like sunscreen, wet wipes, bug spray, and pallets of water bottles.

They hand out the items for free during peak heat hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And while many Seattelites savor the rays, it helps keep those without shelter cool during unnaturally hot days.

"When the temperature rises, there’s fear of dehydration," says Brian Chandler, director of outreach at the Mission.

It’s estimated 11,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Seattle. Experts acknowledge that’s probably an undercount.

And when there's a streak of warm weather, it puts people experiencing homelessness at a greater risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Climate change is also expected to make this problem worse as average temperatures peak into higher ranges and heat waves last longer.

Chandler said that while they’re thinking about those problems, they have to take it one step at a time and help who they can today.