Philadelphia, PA - “A Code Blue remains in effect in Philadelphia through Monday December 12th at 6:00 am. This is the first Code Blue of the winter season, which started at 6:00 pm Thursday, December 8th.
“The City issued the emergency warning 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 people 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 people experiencing homelessness.
“This winter, the Office of Homeless Services has added 304 beds and 124 Café slots for Code Blue. People 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 people 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.
“On Thursday December 15th at 4:00 pm, Mayor Kenney will kick off a Real Change Open House for residents to learn about and connect with 30 nonprofits that provide housing, food and social services to people experiencing homelessness year-round.
“This Open House is free and open to the public and is hosted by the Office of Homeless Services, the Center City District and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The event will take place in room 108A at the convention center until 7:00 pm.
“We also encourage everyone to bear in mind that most of Philadelphia’s homeless population is invisible. These are families with children living in shelters so it is important they are not forgotten.
“Concerned citizens who see a person living on the street should call Homeless Outreach at 215-232-1984 and report the sighting. Homeless Outreach teams are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”