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HOME > WHAT WE DO BY TOPIC > HOMELESSNESS > EMERGENCY SHELTER COMMISSION > Homeless Resources for Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

Homeless Resources for Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

The Boston Public Health Commission recognize that winter storms and extreme cold weather place homeless people who suffer from medical/behavioral health problems particularly at risk if they are exposed to these weather conditions.

The Emergency Shelter Commission offers the following as part of a citywide effort to respond proactively to the health, safety and well being of all residents, including homeless persons, during extreme cold weather conditions. During winter storms or any time the temperature falls below freezing, a network of city agencies, homeless shelters, street outreach teams and other community partners provide these and other additional resources:

Key Public Health and Public Safety Partners

  • The Emergency Shelter Commission will coordinate the efforts of a city‐wide network of emergency shelters, outreach providers and other city agencies assisting the homeless. The ESC communicates with key public health and public safety partners, including: Boston Police, Boston EMS, Boston Homeless Services, Boston Park Rangers and the MBTA police.

  • Boston EMS patrols to be alert for homeless at risk of hypothermia and arranges transportation to shelter if hospital care is not needed. Works with BPD and other agencies to assist people at risk who refuse transportation to shelter. Contacts Boston Emergency Services Team if mental health evaluation is needed for persons refusing shelter. Patrols known homeless locations as able given dispatch volume.

  • Boston Homeless Services emergency shelters will stay open 24/7. Coordinates multi‐agency partnership to assist high users of emergency services; will provide additional staff if needed, serves lunch, provides amnesty to guests barred (except for violence).

  • Boston Police Department issues hourly directives to seek out homeless in need and transport to shelter. Checks on locations identified by District Community Service Officers. Boston Police Department Street Outreach Team serves as liaison between public safety, shelter and social services organizations.

  • Boston Park Rangers patrol the Emerald Necklace Parks days; rangers know shelter options for the homeless, work closely with BPD, EMS and outreach agencies.

  • Boston Health Care for the Homeless provides street teams and clinical care in shelters and other homeless programs. Serves as a liaison between Boston Medical Center, Mass. General and other hospitals Emergency Departments re: homeless persons at risk of hypothermia or cold weather injuries. Arrange beds at the Barbara McInnis House Respite if they are needed.

  • Bridge Over Troubled Waters provides street outreach, a transitional day program, overnight emergency shelter for youth on a first-come first serve basis and operates a winter warming center.

  • DMH Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) assessment and referral for at‐risk mentally ill. Coordinates with Boston Emergency Services Team to issues alerts for vulnerable adults.

  • MBTA Police issue directives to seek out homeless in need; transport to shelter.

  • Pine Street Inn Outreach Van expands outreach hours from 6 pm to 4:30 am during extreme cold and winter storms; Van may also be used by daytime outreach team; Emergency shelters, including Men's Inn, Women's Inn and the Shattuck Shelter are open 24/7; amnesty for barred guests (unless posing danger).

  • New England Center for Homeless Veterans allows women and men to stay on emergency basis regardless of veteran status or sobriety. Referrals to other shelters.

  • Rosie's Place may offer additional emergency shelter to women in their lobby when there is a winter weather emergency.

  • Familyaid​ Boston On‐call support to Mayor's 24 Hour Service for homeless or at‐risk Boston families with dependent children under age 18 for families from Boston only. If family is deemed in need of emergency placement, social worker will arrange to meet families at Boston Medical Center to ensure proper child health and safety screening.
Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: