“We plan for additional shelter operations where we expand the beds available, so every single person who is willing to come inside can access a warm and safe place,” said Laura Zeilinger, director of the D.C. Department of Human Services.
“We have provided emergency shelter to 1,447 individuals across our region, and hypothermia beds,” said Zeilinger. “We’re also providing shelter to 570 families.”
D.C. is also asking its residents to be proactive in helping vulnerable people get to shelter during bouts of extreme cold. The city has a hypothermia hotline people can call if there’s a concern that someone might be outside when it’s especially cold. Call it directly at 202-399-7093, or by dialing DC’s 311 services.
“Any time there is … a hypothermia alert, or in the case of a cold weather alert, we ramp up our operations to get everybody inside,” Zeilinger said. She adds it never hurts to ask someone if they need help.
D.C. is also looking for volunteers to help get the elderly and disabled through the winter, when the weather makes things more difficult outside.
“Some people do not actually have relatives or loved ones they can depend on to assist them during this time,” said Ayris Scales, interim director at Serve D.C.
“There are opportunities to volunteer by helping shovel, and making sure that family members (and) residents can continue with their lives during this time,” said Scales.