2016-12-14 / Front Page

City Calls ‘Code Blue’ To Warm The Homeless

By Liz Goff
Workers with the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) hit the streets last weekend on a “Code Blue” mission to coax the homeless out of frigid temperatures and into city shelters.

DHS officials declare a “Code Blue” each time the thermometer dips below 32 degrees, sending twice the number of outreach teams to the streets to bring the homeless indoors, an agency spokesperson said.

The outreach teams join forces with FDNY Emergency Medical responders and local police to try to prevent hypothermia and frostbite in the homeless, the spokesperson said. The teams were able to help several people in western Queens onto the warmth of city hospitals and shelters, authorities said.

“Convincing people who live on the streets to go to a shelter for even one night is no easy task,” authorities said. “Even the most frigid temperatures are not enough to make some people leave their few belongings behind to stay in a shelter,” authorities said. “Many of the homeless have mental health issues that keep them on the street and interfere with their judgment to get out of the cold.”

DHS officials reminded Queens residents that the 2016 “Code Blue” enforcement includes single homeless individuals and homeless families who require shelter from the cold.

Outreach teams last week scoured Ditmars Boulevard, 30th Avenue, Steinway Street, Broadway and 36th Avenue in their search for homeless.

“The teams located two or three individuals on the commercial strips,” authorities said.  “They check locations several times before determining there are no homeless at a specific site. They know exactly where to look for people who might be in trouble.”

 Wicked winds sent temperatures plummeting in Queens into the teens overnight from December 9 through 11, with daytime highs of about 37 degrees.

DHS officials are urging area residents to call 311 for assistance if they see a homeless individual in need of immediate medical assistance.

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