The Bitter Weather Isn’t Just a Petty Instagram Gripe — It Kills

A conversation with Augustine Frazier, manager of a low-barrier men’s shelter in northeast Washington.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Jan. 7, 2014, 11:15 a.m.

Cold weath­er isn’t just an an­noy­ance. It can kill you. Es­pe­cially if you’re poor.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a study by Olivi­er Des­chenes and En­rico Mor­etti that found the num­ber of an­nu­al deaths at­trib­ut­able to cold tem­per­at­ure is 27,940, or 1.3 per­cent of total deaths in the United States, and that the people af­fected are dis­pro­por­tion­ately from low-in­come com­munit­ies.

“The ef­fect for counties in the bot­tom in­come decile is 66% lar­ger than the ef­fect for counties the top in­come decile,” the au­thors wrote in their 2007 study. The reas­on isn’t dif­fi­cult to de­term­ine: Mem­bers of this pop­u­la­tion fre­quently lack ac­cess to ad­equate cloth­ing and shel­ter.

In Wash­ing­ton, home to an es­tim­ated 6,685 home­less res­id­ents, the city has opened up a hand­ful of emer­gency shel­ters. With the city’s stand­ard shel­ters already near ca­pa­city, such “low-bar­ri­er” shel­ters can save lives, provid­ing last-minute beds, hot food, and some­times clothes to in­di­vidu­als in need. (Dan Dia­mond, a con­trib­uter to For­bes, has com­piled a use­ful list of shel­ter hot­line num­bers in ma­jor Amer­ic­an cit­ies.)

Though these emer­gency shel­ters are typ­ic­ally open for just 12 to 24 hours, they are cur­rently op­er­at­ing around the clock through the dur­a­tion of the so-called po­lar vor­tex, per city or­ders. I spoke Tues­day with Au­gustine Fra­zi­er, man­ager of Cath­ol­ic Char­it­ies’ low-bar­ri­er men’s shel­ter in north­east Wash­ing­ton, about what he’s seen.

What fol­lows is an ab­bre­vi­ated ver­sion of our con­ver­sa­tion.

Na­tion­al Journ­al: How long have you worked at the shel­ter and what do you see in a typ­ic­al night?

Fra­zi­er: I’ve been with the shel­ter for six years and ca­pa­city for us is 360 people. Some­times we run over, some­times we do not. They cue the line up between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. In­take’s at 7 p.m. and people can typ­ic­ally get a sheet, some soup, a tow­el. They take a shower if they want to and cue up for hot food.

NJ: What hap­pens when you go over ca­pa­city?

Fra­zi­er: We provide cots.

NJ: How many people did you have last night?

Fra­zi­er: We ran up to 370, so 10 over ca­pa­city. We made sure we had staff­ing, made sure every­one got in and at least had some clothes to wear, some food to eat. We have 171 cli­ents in the build­ing as of this in­ter­view.

NJ: How do you see your mis­sion as a shel­ter?

Fra­zi­er: It’s a con­tinuum, the shel­ter is part of the con­tinuum on a long-term plan for hous­ing people. I see my­self as part of that con­tinuum.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
ARE YOU THE GATEKEEPER?
Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago
THE LATEST

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.

×