Skid Row Homeless Shelter Asks for Water Donations Amid Heat Wave and Drought

Rieyely Miller, 19, drinks water he received from the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles. (Al Seib / For The Times)

The sun was at its peak as the Midnight Mission began lunch service on San Pedro Street in skid row.

Sweat dripped down the backs of the unhoused men and women who waited in line for something to eat — and to drink. The latter was becoming harder to procure as the summer heat settled across Los Angeles, the U.S. city with the largest unhoused population.

For the Midnight Mission, which serves the swelling ranks of homeless people, this has meant a growing need for water donations.

“Water isn’t a privilege; it’s mandatory,” said Georgia Berkovich, director of public affairs for the mission. “And even more so now, we’re seeing more and more people coming for water, and we’re seeing more heat-related illnesses on skid row.”

Like many L.A. neighborhoods, skid row is an urban heat island, where roads and other infrastructure absorb and reflect the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and bodies of water.

The nonprofit Midnight Mission provides basic needs to unhoused and nearly unhoused people, including meal services three times a day, water access and cooling stations.

During meal service, 500 to 1,000 people will line up. Berkovich says there is always a shortage of water, but the mission needs more now, especially as some large donors have left the area.

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SOURCE: LA Times, Rebecca Schneid