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Tips on helping the homeless throughout the winter

DC, Maryland and Virginia all have phone numbers you can call if you see someone in need of shelter or a wellness check.

WASHINGTON — After a nor'easter hit the D.C. metro area in mid-December, locals heard all about the snow, freezing rain and cold temperatures that were coming to their doorsteps. During big winter storms, experts typically advise the public to stay at home, avoid driving in dangerous conditions and practice extra safety on icy sidewalks.

But what about those experiencing homelessness in the winter months? Here are some resources for how you can help those who may be in need of shelter throughout the colder months of the year. 

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QUESTION: What can you do for a homeless person in need of shelter if you see them out in the cold?

ANSWER: D.C. has a shelter hotline that is operating 24/7, seven days a week throughout hypothermia season, which goes from Nov. 1 through March 31.

If you see someone in need of shelter, call 202- 399-7093 or dial 311. They will either transport the individual to shelter or do a welfare check. 

Q: What kind of information should you share if you call?

A: When calling, you should include the time, the address or location of the sighting, and a description of the person’s appearance.

Q: What about Maryland and Virginia?

A: There are many programs across Maryland and Virginia that also have transportation or shelter services for the homeless during these cold conditions. Those details will vary by county.

Find more information here about Virginia's Hypothermia Prevention Program.

For helping the homeless in the state of Maryland, you can call the Homeless Hotline toll free throughout the state at 888-731-0999 or at 301-864-7095. That hotline provides emergency answering and referral for the homeless 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.