During time of extreme cold, extra homeless outreach teams will patrol the streets encouraging homeless people to come indoors and avoid prolonged exposure to the elements amid dangerously cold temperatures. People experiencing homelessness will be strongly encouraged to remain indoors until the Code Blue has ended. OHS is providing 80 extra shelter beds throughout the Code Blue period.
City officials are urging the public to call Homeless Outreach at 215-232-1984 at any time if they see someone who is homeless and sleeping on the street. Homeless outreach teams are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
OHS issues a Code Blue when the National Weather Service predicts wind chills of 20 degrees or lower or precipitation with temperatures below 32 degrees.
Regarding Code Blue
The City issues emergency warnings in response to the National Weather Service’s prediction of bitter cold with wind chill temperatures at 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below or 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation. It’s a collaboration among the Office of Homeless Services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the Outreach Coordination Center operated by Project HOME.
During Code Blue, Homeless Outreach increases staffing and transports homeless persons directly to shelter 24 hours a day. We also engage Unified Dispatch to ensure that all first responders in the city are aware and on alert. Philadelphia Police are authorized to transport the homeless to a shelter. Our collective goal is to prevent weather related deaths among persons experiencing homelessness.
This winter, the Office of Homeless Services has added 304 beds and 124 Café slots for Code Blue. Persons experiencing homelessness do not need to present ID to enter Code Blue shelters or cafes from the street. They may remain indoors throughout the entire Code Blue period and are strongly encouraged to do so.
While we appreciate the great sense of concern and sympathy Philadelphians express when coming across a person who is experiencing street homelessness during the extreme cold, we graciously ask all citizens to refrain from offering sleeping bags, food, mattresses, tents or similar items during this period. Providing these items can be dangerous as doing so enables and encourages persons living on the street to remain outside during emergency temperatures instead of coming inside where there is refuge from the cold.
We encourage Philadelphians to satisfy their instinct to help by supporting an established nonprofit or faith-based homeless services program at any level for which they may be able to contribute or volunteer.