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 »
ASKS CONGRESS FOR $1.1 BILLION MORE
White House Grants $53 Million for Opioids
51 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many Offices Does Trump Have in Battleground States?
1 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Eighty-eight, according to PBS. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has 291 offices in those same 15 states.

Source:
CORRINE BROWN LOSES HERS
Wasserman Schultz Wins Her Primary
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz beat back a primary challenge by law professor Tim Canova on Tuesday. The Florida Democrat and deposed former Democratic National Committee chief led 57%-42% with more than 80% of the vote counted last night. Meanwhile, fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown became the fifth incumbent to lose during this election cycle. Brown, who was recently indicted for fraud, lost to former state Sen. Al Lawson.

Source:
CHALLENGER MAY NOT ENDORSE HIM
McCain Survives in Arizona
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Reports of Sen. John McCain's demise were greatly exaggerated. Seeking a sixth term, the Arizona Republican handily defeated upstart Kelli Ward. The Associated Press called the race around 8:30pm local time. Ward was in no mood to be conciliatory, saying, "After refusing to debate while running a slash and burn campaign devoid of actual ideas, I hope the senator can rest comfortably with his conscience as he continues to lecture others about civility. The Republican party cannot win as a national party if we keep nominating unprincipled career politicians whose only objective is perpetual re-election." McCain now faces U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the Nov. 8 general election.

Source:
SURPRISING DEVELOPMENTS
Trump Meeting with Mexican President Today
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto today. "Trump's meeting is at the invitation of Pena Nieto, who tweeted that he's planning to meet with other candidates as well." Few details were made public, but "Trump is scheduled to be on stage at 6 p.m. in Phoenix for a major immigration speech, so the meeting will be early in the day."

Source:
×