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Mayor Bowser Encourages District Residents to Help Keep Neighbors Experiencing Homelessness Safe throughout Hypothermia Season

Friday, November 20, 2020

(Washington, DC) – As the District continues through Hypothermia Season, Mayor Muriel Bowser is encouraging residents, organizations, and businesses to support and protect neighbors experiencing homelessness this winter. During Hypothermia Season, which runs from November 1 – March 31, the District implements its Winter Plan to enhance outreach, expand shelter capacity, and offer other critical supports to ensure residents experiencing homelessness have a safe place to stay during extreme cold temperatures. All year-round, low-barrier and seasonal shelters remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with reduced capacity to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. District residents are encouraged to save the Shelter Hotline phone number (202) 399-7093 in their mobile devices and to call the hotline or call 311 to request assistance or transportation for persons in DC who are experiencing homelessness and in need of shelter.

“As the temperatures drop, we all need to work together to keep our community safe and healthy,” said Mayor Bowser. “I’m grateful for our human services teams, our community partners who do outreach, and for all the men and women who keep our shelter vans running and our shelters staffed. Especially during an already challenging year, let’s make sure we are all doing our part to look out for each other and especially for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Today, the DC Department of Human Services (DHS), in partnership with the DowntownDC Business Improvement District, distributed personal care kits to residents utilizing the Downtown Day Services Center and shared information about expanded shelter and services available during the hypothermia season. In addition to highlighting supports provided by the District, DHS emphasized how the community can help vulnerable neighbors and ensure they are protected from cold weather injury and death.

“District residents and community partners play an important role in keeping our unsheltered residents safe during the winter months. If you see someone outside in need of shelter or assistance, call the Shelter Hotline at (202) 399-7093 or 311 – if there appears to be an imminent risk to someone’s safety, please call 911,” shared DHS Director Laura Zeilinger. “To further protect residents experiencing homelessness, the District has implemented safety measure to mitigate risk of exposure to COVID-19. Some examples include: daily health screenings, decreasing density to allow for social distancing, 24 hour operations, grab-and-go meals, and enhanced cleaning protocols per CDC sanitation guidelines.”

Throughout the year, Homeless Service Outreach Workers provide critical supplies and housing-focused engagement, and during the winter months distribute warming items including socks, hats, gloves, and blankets. During Hypothermia Season, transportation to shelters is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This winter, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, regularly-scheduled transportation routes will not be operating. However, on-demand transportation is available by calling the Shelter Hotline and priority will be given to residents seeking a ride to shelter.

In addition to using the Shelter Hotline to request transportation for neighbors, residents may also receive public safety notifications through Alert DC and homeless services text alerts via Hope One Source. For District Hypothermia and Cold Weather Emergency alerts, residents may follow DHS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Families seeking emergency shelter can call the Shelter Hotline or 311 at any time day or night. The Virginia Williams Family Resource Center is currently conducting assessments for homeless services via phone and is closed for in-person assessments throughout the public health emergency.