Heat brings whole new set of challenges for the homeless

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-07 20:24:52-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Tourist season is good for many Virginia Beach businesses, but bad for some of the homeless.

Union Mission representative Linda Jones said the extreme temperatures are hurting some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Amber Whelan and her fiancée Ryan Cassidy are homeless.

The couple is from Ohio, but moved to Virginia because they were down on their luck and looking for new opportunities.

They are currently sleeping under a bridge near Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach.

"We don't want any problems," said Whelan.

The couple said they do magic as a way to make cash.

They travel with their puppy Bella and said finding a place to sleep has been tough at times.

"They just try to push a lot of the homeless out during the tourist season," said Whelan.

Jones said they see more homeless in Hampton Roads both from out of state and locally. She said they have seen an increase of 17 percent since May 1st.

"They do seek help in those months even more so than in the winter months, and most people don't realize that," said Jones.

The heat presents a whole new set of challenges.

"Summer is a very dangerous time for the homeless on the streets," said Jones.

They can suffer from dehydration.  There are fewer shelters open in the summer and the heat can sometimes spoil food quicker which can increase their chances of getting sick.

Plus, the cost of a hotel or motel for the night or week skyrockets during the tourist season.

"On the weekends, you're not going to get a hotel room unless you have a bank account," said Cassidy.

Despite the challenges, the couple tries to stay positive.

"No matter how bad it gets, it could always be worse off," said Cassidy.

Now they're trying to get to California or Florida but say they're enjoying Hampton Roads during their stay.