How to Help Homeless New Yorkers During Cold Weather

Each winter, thousands of homeless New Yorkers struggle to survive on the streets, while high winds, frigid temperatures, snow and freezing rain can put them at risk of life-threating illnesses like hypothermia and frostbite. For the second year in a row, the State has issued an emergency rule to help homeless New Yorkers come in from the cold: When the thermometer dips below 32 degrees, including wind chill, anyone who is outdoors is guaranteed emergency shelter for the night. The City also declares a Code Blue warning in extreme weather. It is important to note that homeless individuals and families always have a right to shelter in New York City regardless of the weather, but there are expanded outreach and drop-in services as well as different shelter and intake rules when Code Blue is in effect.

Cold weather is dangerous for this vulnerable population, but here are a few ways you can help homeless New Yorkers this winter:

  • Unless you feel unsafe doing so, ask if the person is ok, has someplace to go and needs help.
  • Call 311 to let the City know that there is a person in need of emergency shelter.
  • If the person seems to require medical attention, call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Learn more about the State’s Emergency Measures for the Homeless During Inclement Winter Weather.
  • Provide information about the Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program (GCFP), which offers warm food, coats, blankets, sleeping bags and assistance 365 days of the year – even during dangerous winter weather like blizzards. Click here for a list of stops.
  • Share this graphic with your friends and family, and spread the word on how to help our neighbors in need: