How To Help Homeless People During The Polar Vortex

Photo: Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Getty Images.
Chances are good that you've been affected by the polar vortex: Temperatures around the U.S. are dropping lower than they have in recent history. At least eight people in the Midwest, the region hit the hardest, have died as a result of the brutal conditions.
People without roofs over their heads are more likely to suffer from the extreme cold. Here's how you can help the homeless survive this potentially life-threatening polar vortex.
Call 311 if you see someone who is in need of help.
Most major cities use the 311 non-emergency number. City officials ask that you call this hotline if you see somebody who may be in need of shelter or help.
Donate to a local homeless shelter.
Money is always better, but if you are unable to give money, ask your local homeless shelter what resources — like food or clothes — they may need. Extreme cold can lead to overcrowding at homeless shelters, which means they will have more needs.
Shelters in Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston are required not to turn people away. After the shelters are full, government officials can open seasonal shelters as needed. "These three cities are the only ones functioning with a Right to Shelter Law during a hypothermic event," Dora Taylor, public information officer at the D.C. Department of Human Services, told AccuWeather. "We are legally bound to provide a warm, safe space for someone during a hypothermia alert."
Donate lodging.
An anonymous good Samaritan recently paid for hotel rooms for 70 homeless people in Chicago who were staying in tents with no heat. You can start your own fundraiser for rooms among friends or at work.
Make care packages.
For those who don't have the option to stay inside or don't want to stay in a shelter, you can donate care packages with gloves, scarves, blankets, and non-perishable food. But always ask people what they need first.
"People have to do what they feel from their heart, but when it's this cold, you need to call someone and try to get first-responders to the person, not just assume that a coat or blanket will solve the problem," Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told AccuWeather.

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