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. Design

    The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia

    Serenbe, an intentional community outside Atlanta, promises urban pleasures without the messiness of city life.

  2. Maps

    America's Loneliest Roads, Mapped

    An interactive map highlights the least traveled routes in the country—and some of the most scenic.

  3. A young refugee from Kosovo stands in front of a map of Hungary with her teacher.

    Who Maps the World?

    Too often, men. And money. But a team of OpenStreetMap users is working to draw new cartographic lines, making maps that more accurately—and equitably—reflect our space.

  4. London Mayor Sadiq Khan

    Can London Become a People-Centric Smart City?

    “That's no easy step—it involves investment in human beings, not just systems,” says the city’s newly-appointed chief digital officer.

  5. Life

    Minneapolis YIMBYs Go to the Mat for Zoning Changes

    Activists turn to creative videography in their efforts to allow fourplexes throughout the city.