Sheltering homeless during Code Blue, freezing temps top priority

Keeping people warm and sheltered is a top priority for the city as temperatures are well below freezing and wind chills making the air feel so much colder. With a Code Blue in place, finding people on the streets and getting them indoors is a 24-hour effort.

"We have a full house right now with the weather, of course," residential aid with ODAAT, Joanie Vieldhouse, said.

Code Blue means people like Vieldhouse are working around the clock to get people off the cold streets and into warm beds.

ODAAT client, Monica Phillips, stated, "Prior to coming here to ODAAT Shelter, I was on the street on the cold, wet, rainy days."


Frigid temperatures prompt Code Blue response across Philadelphia

As Philadelphia’s snow emergency comes to an end, another problem is on the horizon for the weekend and that is the frigid temperatures.

Year round, One Day At A Time, or ODAAT, focuses on homeless outreach and during freezing temperatures, their mission intensifies.

"We don’t want anybody on the streets," Vieldhouse said. "If we can help, as long as we have available beds, the women are welcome to come."

ODAAT’s winter initiative women’s shelter is funded by the city’s Office of Homeless Services. It houses 40 women nightly and operates from December 1st to the end of March.

"This is a very good place. They help you with housing, they help you with shelter, they help you with clothes, they help you with food. They have hot food," Phillips added.

As part of the city’s Code Blue response, after-hour intake centers are also open 24 hours a day for anyone in need of shelter. During a Code Blue, this women’s emergency respite site also allows people to stay at the facility around the clock. While there, women have access to meals and other services, such as recovery resources or employment opportunities.


Part of the Code Blue effort also means extra outreach teams are on the streets assisting and transporting people indoors.

Vieldhouse commented, "We just we try to make it work as best we can we work together as a team."

"A decent hot meal means a lot," a woman staying at the shelter said. "I happened to lose my home because I got sick and to know that – I’m trying to not get emotional. It’s bad when you have limited choices and to get in here, it’s a Godsend."

More information about ODAAT's homeless outreach can be found on their website.

More information on Philadelphia's homeless outreach can be found on the city's website.