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Beating the heat | Homeless shelter in Portsmouth adjusts to hot weather

Leaders with Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless said they've stocked up on water since April in preparation for the heat.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Another hot day in Hampton Roads has many people staying indoors. Those experiencing homelessness are also seeking cool places to stay. One of them is at a shelter run by Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless.

“It’s ridiculous to be out there,” Shirley Ricks said.

On a hot day, Ricks tries to stay inside when temperatures start to climb. 

“Oh, I don’t do too much heat,” she said.

She said it’s because it impacts her health.

“I take certain medication for a brain tumor, and I can’t be outside with that medication,” Ricks said.

So, you’ll find Shirley Ricks sitting inside the shelter at Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless. 

Darlene Washington, the executive director of the organization, said the dangerous heat is bringing more people to their doors.

“We see individuals who would otherwise try to tough it out, you know sleeping outdoors…and so they’re saying ‘yeah, it’s getting a little bit tough,’” she said.

The hot weather has the shelter operating differently. 

Washington said volunteers are dimming the lights and expanding its hours to allow its clients to cool off during the day. 

Volunteers have stocked up on water since April to keep those experiencing homelessness hydrated. 

Though, she says another important item needed -- clothes.

“People having seasonal appropriate clothing whether it’s light t-shirts, light shirts, shorts, the right footwear,” Washington said.

All things she says will them healthy and protected from the heat.

“Once a person feels good about themselves and are healthy, then they are able to tackle all of the challenges they need to be rehoused,” she said.

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