As summer approaches, City prepared to open weather-respite centers during extreme heat

As summer approaches and the temperatures rise, the City of Sacramento is prepared to open weather-respite centers during extreme heat.

Following its use as a respite location during winter storms, the City’s Outreach and Engagement Center (3615 Auburn Blvd.) now will serve as a place where people can cool down during heat waves. City community centers also can be activated to assist in this capacity.

“Last summer, both the City and County of Sacramento activated several locations to assist residents during extreme weather events, and we plan to do the same again this year,” said Nick Golling, Manager of Homeless Services for the City’s Department of Community Response.

Using guidelines approved by the City Council in 2022, the City will activate respite centers when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for expected dangerous heat conditions. That notification roughly coincides with a temperature forecast of 100 degrees or higher for at least two days and nighttime air temperatures of 75 degrees or higher.

These criteria are separate and distinct from the thresholds put forth in the State and County’s Severe Weather Guidance Plan, which are monitored by the City’s Office of Emergency Management. The Department of Community Response is responsible for the opening of respite centers under City guidelines.

“High temperatures can be very dangerous to people experiencing homelessness and to those that may not have access to air conditioning in their homes,” Golling said. “By providing these cooling locations, we are keeping our most vulnerable residents protected from potentially deadly conditions.”

The City’s Office of Emergency Management continues to oversee response to wildfire smoke and will activate cleaner-air centers in coordination with Sacramento County Public Health and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

During days when temperatures do not reach the respite-activation thresholds, community centers and public libraries continue to offer a safe place to escape the heat as part of their normal day-to-day operations.

City respite centers typically offer water, snacks, restrooms and a place for people to rest and charge their phones, Golling said. They also give the City an opportunity to discover other needs individuals may have and connect them with the appropriate resources.

Some weather-respite locations allow people to bring their pets. The City’s Outreach and Engagement Center, for example, has shaded kennel space with water misters as well as a secure storage space for people’s belongings.