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Imagine Being Homeless During the Polar Vortex


Imagine Being Homeless During the Polar Vortex

Nicole Braun

It was noon one recent Saturday in Northern Michigan, and temperatures were 30 degrees below 0.

Winter storm warnings were blaring about the necessity of staying indoors, with dire reminders of the lethal consequences for being outside. People had 10 minutes at best before frostbite set in, they warned.

I logged onto Facebook and saw many posts reminding folks to bring pets inside — “if you’re cold, they’re cold.” I love animals, but I couldn’t help remembering that an awful lot of humans needed shelter too.


And yet Republicans and their followers wonder why these people don’t just move to a warmer climate.


Beautiful story Nicole Braun and you are so right, our priorities in America have long been off-track and it’s time for the people to stand up and take a stand. We can expect nothing but worsening weather conditions as a result of climate change. It’s time for a moral and economic revolution!


Hi Tom, thank you so much for your awareness of the adjunct reality within the larger capitalist challenges, for your kind words, and for your solidarity. What an important and tragic point about basic food security. And all of this as we know is unnecessary; things do not have to be as they “are.”

I would like to hear more from you. I hope this is not intrusive but I looked for your name on FB and did not have much luck. I think you can find me fairly easily on Facebook if you would like to keep in touch.



ReconFire, yes, that is an important point. And I have also heard that sunny states are even harsher with folks who do not have anywhere to go—:frowning:
Thank you for taking the time to read the article and for your response.


Thank you so much, nursepolitica–I appreciate your awareness and consciousness. All of these issues are connected (weather, homelessness, poverty, inequality, environment) and if we are to survive—we must address these issues now!


Thank you for the article and all you do to protect these poor (no pun intended) souls.


During the polar vortex I was in British Columbia for a couple of days and expecting to enjoy the temperate temperatures that are normal at this time for the location. I did imagine about the homeless during the event. In the past I have been for a time homeless and dependent on a food bank.

We all know that with the past century’s improvements in productivity and organizing that there are ample resources available that all of us can live healthy and productive lives in our societies. We have the potential to do this while yet still being able to support a parasitic although somewhat less fattened elite, many of whom have benefited far beyond what would normally be expected from exceptional good fortune and dishonesty and who are quite frankly are severely weakening the society on which they enrich themselves.

During the polar vortex I also imagined that society could deliberately choose to maintain a fair but reasonably skewed distribution of resources among its citizens. It is not rocket science to do so. Tax rates could be set to automatically increase or decrease for the various levels of wealth in the population when the portion of the wealth deviates too much from that optimal distribution. While there would be disagreement over what is a fair distribution of wealth and how rapidly to balance it, an system that automatically adjusts taxation to prevent and diminish excessive inequality would be useful.


I am sure I am going to sound like an ignorant soul, but I have this question: Since I am assuming that the homeless are without money, how do they afford opioids?
This is coming in response to a reply from someone else on this topic.
How does a homeless person afford/obtain any medications, unless community services somehow help them get a prescription.

If it weren’t for buying a nearly condemned house very cheap, fixing it up myself and getting it paid off quickly (<7 yrs), I would be homeless. During that house-buying-renovation time, I was forced out of my minimum wage job with the county. My partner has become too ill and crippled to work at an age where he could apply for a couple hundred dollars a month of Social Security (the medicos here refuse to say anyone is disabled as long as they are breathing) and he needs constant assistance day-to-day, as he continues to fall about every six weeks or so.
We have heat assistance, use the food shelf when it’s open once a month, and I garden my tiny backyard patch. I sell vintage items on Etsy, bringing in (usually much) less than $100/month that pays for groceries. We pay copays for the meds he has to take to stay moderately healthy; I do not go to any doctors. I am severely depressed, but the thought of trusting any of the doctors in this area for meds that might help is beyond me.
We owe back taxes on the property and cannot get assistance from the county for new roof, siding or insulation, because we owe back taxes.
In the past five years, we were able to earn enough money to carry us thru to the next season by renovating homes, but with his disabilities getting worse, our days got shorter and shorter and small jobs took longer than clients felt was necessary. They liked the work, we only charged them for the time we were actually working, and only billed when we were done, but visitors, like fish, stink after three days.
I look out my window at the cold (we get -40F often as the temp) and remember that freezing to death is merely a matter of falling asleep. And I am tired of staring out the window.