D.C. Mayor Gray: "Cold Weather Emergency" for homeless

D.C. Mayor Gray has announced an initiative to help the homeless during the current snowstorm and extreme temperatures.

Gray declared a “Cold Weather Emergency” with the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA ) on Tuesday. As part of the emergency, WMATA provided buses as warming places to keep homeless out of the wind and cold from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, homeless persons are free to go to open shelters and open District government buildings.

Emergency warming shelters and hypothermia shelters may open earlier in the day depending on the severity of the weather. Involuntary transport will also be executed if someone refuses to go inside -- the Department of Behavioral Health and Metropolitan Police Department will transport under D.C. law those with mental illnesses who are unable to protect themselves.

A Cold Weather Emergency is called when the temperature falls and there is/are:

• Steady precipitation for 60 consecutive minutes

• Ice Storms and/or freezing rain

• Snow accumulation of three inches or more

• Sustained winds of more than 10-15 miles per hour

• A wind chill below 0 degrees F

• Other meteorological conditions or threats as determined by HSEMA

Residents are encouraged to contact shelter hotlines to request help for homeless persons:

• 1-800-535-7252

• 202-399-7093