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Mayor Gray continues services to protect homeless residents during freezing cold

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Mayor Vincent Gray will maintain the expansion of services for homeless residents based on National Weather Service projections of frigid air and wind-chill temperatures in the District through January 25, 2014. The expanded services include emergency shelters at designated recreation centers and warming buses located throughout the city.

These measures will continue through Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. or until the Cold Emergency Alert is deactivated by the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA).

Extreme cold temperatures in the region threaten the lives of people who are homeless. Those most at risk for cold-related injuries, including hypothermia and frostbite, are referred to as “chronically homeless,” On January 21, Mayor Gray and HSEMA Director Chris Geldart activated the city’s Cold Emergency Plan. The activation will continue until the temperature, including wind chill, reaches at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

In coordination with the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), WMATA is providing buses to serve as warming stations to keep homeless individuals out of the frigid cold and wind. The buses remained open until 9:00 a.m., Thursday, January 23; will reopen at 3:00 p.m.; and will repeat the same schedule on Friday, January 24 and through the morning of Saturday, January 25. Bus locations are:

  • 5th and C Streets NW
  • Massachusetts Avenue and 1st Street NE
  • 17th and H Streets NW
  • West End Library (23rd and L Streets NW)
  • 27th and K Streets NW

Gray activated four DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) sites to serve as overflow shelters during the cold emergency. As of Thursday, January 23, 2014, these Centers will close each morning at 7:00 a.m. and reopen at 7:00 p.m. These Centers include:

  • Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th Street NW)
  • Columbia Heights Recreation Center (1480 Girard Street NW)
  • Banneker Recreation Center (2500 Georgia Avenue NW)
  • Emory Recreation Center (5801 Georgia Avenue NW)

Every effort will be made by homeless outreach teams to secure an individual’s cooperation with voluntary transport to a warm and safe setting. If someone refuses to go inside, the Department of Behavioral Health and Metropolitan Police Department are prepared to exercise authority under D.C. law to transport those homeless individuals with a mental illness who are not able to protect themselves from the extreme cold to medical and emergency facilities. A homeless man was found frozen to death on January 8th, 2014, on Allentown Road in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Gray is trying to avoid the loss of life in D.C.

Residents are encouraged to contact shelter hotlines to request help for homeless persons. Providers and the public may contact the Shelter Hotline via:

  • Calling 1-800-535-7252
  • Calling 202-399-7093
  • Calling 311 or 211
  • E-mailing uposh@upo.org

Include the time when the reporter saw the homeless person, the location of the sighting, a description of the person’s appearance (such as clothing), and the person’s name, if known.

Pets should be brought indoors during hypothermia alerts and extreme cold weather. To report cruelty, neglect, and animal emergencies 24 hours a day, call the Washington Humane Society at 202-723-5730.

“Our Cold Weather Emergency response teams are ready to hit the streets to make sure that no one is left out in the cold. I applaud our outreach teams and first responders and continue to remind residents to be on the lookout for any vulnerable neighbors,” Gray said.

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