TACOMA, Wash. — Anthony Bradshaw has been working to help Pierce County’s homeless community for about a year and knows firsthand how much help is needed ahead of a forecasted heat wave.
“I experienced homelessness myself at one point,” Bradshaw said. “To find a place like this giving out resources put a significant change in my life.”
Project Homeless Connect held an event in Fife on Friday, offering services and resources to the homeless community in Pierce County.
Attendees were able to get haircuts, dental appointments, and opportunities to secure housing.
But as attendees sought long-term solutions, there’s a more immediate concern: a heat wave is coming, with temperatures rising fast over the next few days.
Bradshaw says he remembers how far some would go to survive during hot weather in the past.
“It was really tough because it would get hot and the water that we have around here isn’t so clean,” he said. “Sometimes, I would see homeless people, they would get so thirsty that they would go to the rivers and drink some of that bad water.”
The City of Tacoma and the Health Department have both put out notices letting people know where they can go to stay cool, but Michele Cotton of Project Homeless Connect says that’s only half of the problem for the city’s homeless community.
“It is a vulnerable situation because they don’t have transportation to many of the cooling centers,” she said. “We’re going out and giving out water to some of the shelters. But it is a challenge to shuttle people to where there are cooling centers.”
Cotton is now calling on the city to open its doors so those who have nowhere else to go will have a place to stay cool.
“Please open up city buildings, government buildings to let people come in, libraries, wherever folks can go to cool down that have air conditioning, provide them with water, because they don’t have an escape for this like we do,” Cotton said.
The City of Tacoma sent out a notice with information about where you can go to cool off during the upcoming heatwave. Locations include the Tacoma Public Library and various spraygrounds. Cooling centers will be activated once temperatures reach 90 degrees.