Hot Or Not? The Importance Of Unhoused Perception In A Heating-Up World

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Columbia, the capital city of South Carolina, is in a climate region often visited by temperatures both uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. That is a particular threat to those with limited ability to manage their environment.

A recent study about Columbia identified differing attitudes towards hot weather. On one hand were people who are homeless. On the other, those who were securely housed. The study found that the homeless were more sensitive to the heat, but had more limited ability to act upon their perceptions. By contrast, citizens who were securely housed had greater flexibility to avoid hot weather and indeed less inclined to rate it as an important problem.

The study from the International Journal of International Research and Public Health offers itself as solid ground from which to evolve and implement strategies to protect the homeless from inclement weather. Also interesting but undiscussed is an inevitable vulnerability of the homeless to the perceptions of others.

Securely housed citizens, managing summer heat in homes or places of employment, almost inevitably include citizens who regard heat waves as less consequential. The securely housed will inevitably include civic decision-makers who are responsible for the safety of all citizens, the homeless included.

As global warming continues to distort weather patterns, communities need to pay attention by recognizing that people who are unhoused should be included in the design and implementation of hot weather community solutions.

This open source study is published in the International Journal of International Research and Public Health1: Heat Risk Perceptions and Coping Strategies of the Unhoused


  1. The abstract and full article are available at this link. The discussion of findings in the article begins at the end of page 7.