A survey of varying mandates.

The National Coalition for the Homeless released this fascinating map today illustrating the wide variation in policies across the country that mandate exactly how cold it has to be before cities are required to provide overnight shelter for every single homeless person (although plenty of cities have no such requirement):

National Coalition for the Homeless

In Washington, D.C., the law is called the Frigid Temperature Protection Act and requires the city to make available space in District buildings or facilities to anyone without shelter when the temperature falls below 26 degrees, although it's usually applied when the wind chill dips below 32.

New York City institutes something called "cold blue" status at the same freezing benchmark. And Austin has a cold weather plan that kicks in then, too.

The above map suggests that there's a point (albeit a varied one) beyond which it's simply not humane for cities to allow anyone to sleep outdoors. But it also raises the question of what it would take to extend the same resources the rest of the year, or at least throughout the winter.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a couple tries out a mattress in a store.
    Equity

    What’s the Future of the ‘Sleep Economy’?

    As bed-in-a-box startup Casper files for an IPO, the buzzy mattress seller is betting that the next big thing in sleep is brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

  2. World map showing the 400-plus large cities that sit in biodiversity hotspots
    Environment

    Mapping the 'Conflict Zones' Between Sprawl and Biodiversity

    If cities keep growing as they do now, nearly 400 of them will sprawl into the habitats of endangered species by 2030.

  3. photo: subway in NYC
    Transportation

    Inside Bloomberg's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

    Drawing on his time as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg proposes handing power and money to urban leaders as part of his Democratic presidential bid.

  4. Environment

    Neighborhoods With a History of Redlining Are Hotter on Average

    Housing discrimination during the 1930s helps explain why poorer neighborhoods experience more extreme heat.

  5. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

×