Advocate editorial board opinion: Organization needs help keeping homeless cool

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 16, 2011 at 3:16 a.m.

It's official. We are now in a record-setting stretch of hot weather.

And while most of us have the option to hide out at home or inside an office building with functioning air conditioning, there are others who are not so fortunate.

But thanks to the efforts of the Salvation Army, a cooling center has been opened so Victoria's homeless population can stay out of the sweltering and potentially life-threatening elements and just chill.

We applaud the Salvation Army for doing what they do best: helping their fellow man. In this case, it has done so by supplying the homeless with a place to hide from the heat, but also by giving them water and assorted snacks to supply their needs during the day.

The center has received tons of support from members of the community, including donations of both money and goods, as well as volunteers.

But while all this is admirable, the center has not seen much use by members of the homeless community.

Doc Bartlett, director of the Salvation Army's homeless shelter, attributes this to a lack of planning causing a delay in the center's opening.

"People are creatures of habit, and if they've already found a comfortable place, they are less likely to give up that comfort for something else," he said.

Last week, the center had hoped to be able to partner with the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter to take supplies to the homeless, but Bartlett says this was not doable because of a lack of manpower.

"The problem is logistics as far as personnel to keep things running," he said. "We just don't have personnel to do this."

We agree that this is an important service, and because of this, we think other groups should get involved as well.

Bartlett pointed out that other cities, such as San Antonio and Houston, already have a plan in place every year, and Victoria should take a similar approach. He intends to begin the planning process "no later than April" for next year's center.

"This is South Texas. We know it's going to happen."

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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