Have you encountered a person sleeping outside your business and wondered what to do? By caring for people experiencing homelessness, you are caring for your business. Take two minutes now to learn what you can do to assist these individuals and save time and worry later on.
Winter months can be especially dangerous for people experiencing homelessness. At Everyone Home DC, we work diligently to prepare our clients for the cold and to keep them safe, but we cannot do it alone. We need your help in supporting our homeless neighbors in order to build a stronger community in which your business can flourish.
Here is what you can do:
Sign up for AlertDC to receive hypothermia and heat wave notifications.
Save the Shelter Hotline, 202-399-7093, in your phone and use it! Offer to call the Shelter Hotline for individuals you see in the neighborhood. When you call, provide the time, location, and description of the person for whom you are calling.
If you see someone that you think could use extra support, call the Shelter Hotline and ask them to conduct a wellness check.
Reach out to the DC Department of Behavioral Health, specifically their Community Response Team (CRT) at 202-673-6495. The CRT is a 24-7 multidisciplinary direct service team that expands community based direct service efforts—including homeless outreach, mobile crisis, and pre-arrest diversion. The CRT supports adults who are experiencing emotional, psychiatric or substance use vulnerabilities to promote service engagement and overall behavioral health and wellness.
Join Everyone Home DC's Homeless Assistance Response Team (HART). EHDC prepares team members to walk the streets of Capitol Hill in the evenings and check on our homeless neighbors. For more information, check out https://everyonehomedc.org/get-involved/volunteer/.
Advocate for more housing! We know that housing ends homelessness and the safest place for people during the winter (and the rest of the year) is in their own homes. Consider joining The Way Home Campaign to let our elected leaders know that you care about ending homelessness in DC.
If you encounter individuals who are aggressive or who you suspect are engaging in illegal activities, please call the Metropolitan Police Department at 911 for emergency services and 311 for non-emergency services. See more here.
For context, every year DC’s Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) creates a Winter Plan that outlines the services in place for people experiencing homelessness throughout hypothermia season, which spans November 1st through March 31st. During this time, increased supportive services like shelter and shelter transport are available. A hypothermia alert is activated when the actual or forecasted temperature is 32°F or below including windchill, or when the temperature is 40°F or below and there is a 50% chance of rain or snow. When an alert is called, all people experiencing homelessness in DC have a right to shelter. Shelter Hotline vans circulate to bring individuals to open shelter beds, provide warm weather supplies, and conduct basic welfare checks.
This post was written in partnership with Everyone Home DC whose mission it is to support the holistic needs of individuals and families at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.