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Mayor Gray extends services to help protect homeless in freezing cold weather

A Metro bus is used as a warming station in freezing cold on January 22, 2014
A Metro bus is used as a warming station in freezing cold on January 22, 2014
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Driven by a desire to protect the lives of homeless residents, Mayor Vincent Gray will maintain the expansion of services for homeless citizens based on National Weather Service projections of frigid air and wind-chill temperatures in the District through January 24, 2014. It is freezing cold outside. The temperature has dropped down to ten degrees. With the snow and the wind chill factor it is deadly to sleep outside.

The expanded services include emergency shelters at designated recreation centers and warming buses located throughout the city. Gray travelled with teams in search of residents in need of help following the first major snow event. He is continuing his efforts to reach out to the homeless community.

These measures will continue through Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 7:00 a.m. or until the Cold Emergency Alert is deactivated by the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA). This is a very serious threat to human life. Residents are asked to please report sightings of any person sleeping in the freezing cold. The call may save a human life.

Homeland Security reminds residents that 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, 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.

Residents may request transport to shelter for persons in the District who are homeless and on the street now, contact the Shelter Hotline at 1-800-535-7252, 202-399-7093 or 311. You can also request transport by e-mailing uposh@upo.org. Please include the time when the person saw the homeless resident, the address or location of the sighting, and a description of the person’s appearance.

As a result of the snow storm, some untreated alleys may not be passable with a large truck. DPW is requesting that residents with alley collections whose trash and/or recyclables are not collected pull their containers back onto their properties. Collections will be made on the next regularly scheduled service day.

Residents with bulk appointments also can expect those collections to be made as road conditions permit. If you have a bulk appointment for Wednesday, January 22nd and the items are not collected, please call 311 to reschedule your collection day.

Today Gray announced that the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) will activate four DPR locations for 24 hour overflow homeless shelters starting Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

The following sites have currently suspended normal operations and are operating as 24 hour shelters:

· Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th Street, NW)

· Emery Recreation Center (5801 Georgia Avenue, NW)

· Banneker Community Center (2500 Georgia Avenue, NW)

· Columbia Heights Community Center (1480 Girard Street, NW)

If you see someone who is in need of shelter, or you are in need, please call the Hypothermia hotline at 1-800-535-7252, 202-399-7093 or 311. Please note that the hotline serves requests for the District of Columbia only.