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. Transportation

    How Media Coverage of Car Crashes Downplays the Role of Drivers

    Safety advocates have long complained that media outlets tend to blame pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. Research suggests they’re right.

  2. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  3. photo: a Tower Records Japan Inc. store in Tokyo, Japan.
    Life

    The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan

    Cultural cachet, licensing deals, and density explain why Toys ‘R’ Us, Tower Records, Barneys, and other faded U.S. retailers remain big across the Pacific.

  4. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  5. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California’s Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over vacancy in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

×