Keep the homeless warm: dial a local hotline



Winter Storm Benji moved into the Northeast Saturday after blanketing much of the Deep South with heavy snow, leaving at least three dead and thousands without power earlier today. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council estimates that 700 people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness die of hypothermia every year. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to add the number of your city’s hypothermia hotline (or equivalent resource) to your contacts and call if you see someone in need.

Sometimes people experiencing homelessness can be hesitant to take shelter due to fears about drugs, poor social coping skills or mental illnesses, bed bugs, body lice, and the risk of theft. In order to avoid these potential situations, people will often opt to sleep outside even in the harshest of conditions.

However, the risk of staying in the streets can literally mean life or death. Homeless people often face chronic problems that increase their risk of developing or dying from hypothermia, such as inadequate clothing, existing illnesses, malnutrition, or alcohol or drug addiction. In addition to immediately life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia, exposure to the cold can also cause illness and injury that may increase the risk of dying from unrelated conditions in the future.  To make matters worse, hypothermia can result in impaired judgment and the inability to perceive one’s own need for shelter or medical care.

The Northeast is experiencing record lows this year, and homelessness is on the rise for the first time since the recession began in 2008, so it is more important than ever to ensure that our homeless communities make it through the winter.

Here are the hotlines of several major cities in the U.S. and Canada:

  • Atlanta: 404-447-3678 for the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless

  • Baltimore: 311

  • Birmingham, Al.: 205-252-9571 for the Firehouse Shelter

  • Boston: 617-534-2526 for Friends of Boston's Homeless or dial 311

  • Chicago: 311

  • Denver: 720-944-1007 for Denver's Road Home (during business hours)

  • Detroit: 1-800-274-3583 and 1-800-343-4427

  • Fort Collins, Co.: 719-632-1822 for Springs Rescue Mission and 970-484-5010 for Catholic Charities-Larimer County

  • Kansas City, Mo.: 816-474-4599

  • Las Vegas: 702-369-4357 for HELP of Southern Nevada (from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday)

  • Minneapolis: 612-879-7624 for St. Stephen's street outreach team

  • New York City: 311

  • Philadelphia: 215-232-1984 for the Project HOME Homeless Outreach Hotline

  • San Francisco: 311

  • St. Louis: 314-802-5444 for the Housing Resource Center hotline (between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Mon-Friday)

  • Thunder Bay, Ontario: 807-620-7678 for the SOS team (operates between 2 p.m. and 2 a.m.)

  • Toronto: 311

  • Washington, D.C.: 1-800-535-7252 for the Hypothermia Hotline

If your city isn’t listed, check out your state government’s website; most likely information will be located there.

volunteerAN YRHOMELESS, volunteer