DC Cold Emergency Plan versus the Hypothermia Alert

What’s the difference?

The cold temperatures and harsh weather during the winter season, lasting from November through March, are uncomfortable for most people, but they can be dangerous for those who are experiencing homelessness.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) in partnership with community-based organizations and Continuum of Care (CoC) service providers works diligently to ensure that District residents are safe from danger due to inclement winter weather. During such times, DHS collaborates with the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) to issue a Hypothermia Alert or to activate the Cold Emergency Plan accordingly, providing safety and resources for families and individuals in the District experiencing homelessness.

A Hypothermia Alert is usually called when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower, or during times of sustained winds and precipitation 50% or greater. When a Hypothermia Alert is called, DHS and the CoC service providers increase outreach efforts to encourage people without a safe place to be to come inside.

The Cold Emergency Plan was developed by DHS and HSEMA to provide additional services and preventive measures to protect residents during extremely cold weather conditions. The plan is activated when either the temperature and wind chill drop to 15° F or when the temperature and wind chill drop to 20° F and there is an accompanying meteorological event such as snow.

DHS provides free transportation to an emergency shelter or warming site to anyone experiencing homelessness in the District during a Cold Emergency or Hypothermia Alert. Transportation may be requested by contacting the toll-free Shelter Hotline at 1–800–535–7252 or 311. Include the time, the address or location of the sighting, and a description of the person’s appearance and they will be retrieved by a Shelter Hotline Van.

All District families seeking emergency shelter may visit the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center at 920 Rhode Island Avenue, NE, Monday — Thursday between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. or call the DC Shelter Hotline or 311 any time of the day or night.

The Department of Human Services provides Cold Emergency warming sites, Hypothermia Shelters and Low-Barrier Emergency Shelters to accommodate all District residents with a safe, warm place to be.

The following are low barrier and alert night emergency shelters and warming site locations:

Cold Emergency Warming Sites

Sherwood Recreation Center: 640 10th Street, NE (Women only)

Emery Recreation Center: 5801 Georgia Avenue, NW (Co-ed)

Hypothermia/Cold Emergency Alert Night Shelters for Women

New Covenant Baptist Church: 1301 W Street, SE

Community of Christ Church: 3526 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Hypothermia/Cold Emergency Alert Night Shelters for Men

Banneker Recreation Center: 2500 Georgia Avenue, NW

Raymond Recreation Center: 3725 10th Street, NW

Kennedy Recreation Center: 1401 7th Street, NW

Sacred Heart Church: 16th Street and Park Road, NW

Low-Barrier Emergency Shelters

Low-barrier Emergency Shelters for Women
Harriet Tubman Shelter: 1900 Massachusetts Avenue, SE
 John Young Shelter: 117 D Street, NW 
 Nativity Shelter: 6010 Georgia Avenue, NW
Open Door Shelter: 425 2nd Street, NW (at E Street)
 Low-barrier Emergency Shelters for Men
801 East Shelter: 801 Making Life Better Lane, SE
Adams Place Shelter: 2210 Adams Place, NE
New York Avenue Shelter: 1355–57 New York Avenue, NE