As the New York City region braces for cold temperatures and anticipated snowfall, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will again utilize its Code Blue procedure to protect individuals who are living unsheltered throughout the five boroughs.
Implemented when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower, or during times of sustained winds and precipitation, Code Blue calls for increased street outreach efforts - thereby doubling the number of vans in the field and enabling teams to check on individuals more frequently. In addition, when Code Blue is in effect, individuals experiencing homelessness may access any of the agency's adult facilities, including shelters and drop-in centers, without going through the usual intake process.
"Code Blue is a procedure that, above all else, aims to save lives," said DHS Commissioner Michele Ovesey. "As we strengthen and maximize agency outreach efforts, we do so knowing the great importance, and urgency, of reaching as many vulnerable individuals as possible, Citywide."
Since 2007, DHS' outreach program has helped more than 4,100 chronically homeless individuals transition from the streets into housing. However, these efforts become all the more crucial during times of dangerous winter weather, when clients may be more at-risk for frostbite, hypothermia, or other forms of distress. Through Code Blue, DHS not only engages the street homeless population, but also assesses individuals for signs of medical danger, links them to necessary services, and encourages them to transition to safer and more comfortable environments.
With the storm taking place just days into the New Year, and only two weeks into the official winter season, DHS asks all New Yorkers to join the agency's mission to assist clients living on the streets, year-round. Dial 911 in the case of a medical emergency, or 311 to dispatch an outreach team to an individual in need. You may also notify us through the NYC 311 App, available for iPhone and Android.
Please note important health and safety information related to cold weather on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/environmental/cold-weather-safety.shtml.
View PDF of drop-in centers