During severe cold snaps when people are deicing their cars or waiting for the bus in frigid temperatures, they often think about the most vulnerable and wonder how they can help.
Thanks to regular planning and a strong relationship between City Hall and homeless service provider agencies, Philly has plans to keep those experiencing homelessness safe. And there’s something you can do, right now, to help.
What you can do to help homeless Philadelphians
Save this number in your phone: 215-232-1984.
When you see someone on the street who might need shelter or similar assistance, call the number and request a homeless outreach team. Available 24/7, outreach teams include expert staff along with those who have lived experience with street homelessness.
Sometimes, particularly vulnerable people, like those living with severe mental illnesses, don’t know how dangerous it is for them to stay outside in extreme cold. That’s why it’s very important to call outreach; they’re trained to navigate sensitive emergency situations just like that.
As always, if you feel unsafe or you encounter an emergency situation, dial 911.
If you’re passionate about doing more or volunteering, SERVE Philadelphia lists opportunities, including those at meal sites and homeless service organizations. You can also make direct contributions to nonprofit organizations that partner with the Office of Homeless Services.
What the City does to help homeless Philadelphians
Along with serving thousands of Philadelphians every year in short- and long-term homeless service and homelessness prevention programs, the Office of Homeless Services adds 300 slots to programs each November through March. During a Code Blue, even more slots open up.
A Code Blue is a dire situation. The Office of Homeless Services declares it when the weather is so cold that it’s dangerous to those living on the street. During a Code Blue, street outreach increases and resources open up to ensure that anyone who needs help can receive it.
The City will do anything necessary to accommodate everyone who needs help during extreme cold.
That’s why it’s so important to call outreach: They know which locations have slots, where to take people, and what to do.