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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Extreme heat further complicates the lives of homeless women and LGBTQ people

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

By Barbara Rodriguez, The 19th. From PBS News Hour.

"Liz Starke was the final employee to leave Rose Haven last week when a woman who lives in a tent across the street rang the doorbell. The woman was 'hysterical,' Starke recalled.

Starke said the woman told her, 'I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the weekend. You’re not going to be here. What am I going to do?’

Rose Haven provides daytime services to women, children and gender non-conforming people experiencing homelessness in Portland, Oregon, one of the most expensive cities in the country. In this case, the woman knew an ex-partner, who she said abused her, was getting released from prison soon — and she was worried about what services would be available. She was also worried about the pending heat wave.

Officials in Oregon said rising temperatures in the area — which reached a record 116 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday — has been linked to at least 79 deaths. That includes at least 52 in Multnomah County, where Portland is located. With many properties in the region lacking air conditioning, exposure to extreme heat increases the risks of injury, including death.

As extreme heat blanketed the Pacific Northwest, people who rely on places like Rose Haven have faced the brunt of the effects. Research shows women and LGBTQ+ people are among the most vulnerable to housing insecurity and homelessness. That is particularly acute in Oregon, which has one of the highest rates of people who experience unsheltered homelessness, meaning they live outside, including in tents or in cars instead of in shelters or other housing.

In Multnomah County, data from 2019 shows the number of people experiencing homelessness who are gender non-conforming grew more than any other group. And still, the research acknowledges a potential undercounting because of factors like stigmatization and discrimination.

Already, the pandemic and its effects on health, jobs and wages has exacerbated the likelihood that these marginalized communities are most likely to experience housing insecurity or homelessness. Gender-based violence, including domestic violence against women, also contributes to homelessness. Now, climate change has further complicated their lives."

Read the full article here.