For homeless people, cold weather is a killing season

Reducing access to life-saving Code Blue shelter services gives us the chills ("City revises emergency cold weather criteria," Dec. 8). Each year, too many of our homeless neighbors experience frostbite, amputations and even death because they lack adequate shelter.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that 700 homeless people in the U.S. die every year from hypothermia. These are entirely preventable deaths. In Baltimore, we commemorate some of these deaths on Homeless Persons Memorial Day, Dec. 21, the longest night of the year.

How many of our neighbors will we commemorate because of the city's short-sighted decision? Of 77 jurisdictions surveyed by the National Coalition for the Homeless, only 14 required temperatures to drop as low as Baltimore City does before opening their Code Blue shelters.

As Baltimore's 10-year plan to end homelessness recognizes, only permanent affordable housing, adequate incomes and accessible services can end homelessness. But in the meantime, access to cold weather emergency shelter will keep people safe this winter.

Lauren Siegel, Baltimore

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