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Helping the homeless during hot weather

As a City that cares for our homeless neighbors, we need to watch out for our most vulnerable.  Here's one way to help.

When the weather turns extremely hot and humid this summer, we want to remind everyone to keep an eye out for the safety and well-being of the City's most vulnerable residents. Extremely hot weather poses hardships for homeless people, especially those who are elderly or disabled, struggle with alcohol or substance abuse issues, those who suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or who take medications that cause sensitivity to the hot sun.  

Please read the following tips and help us to keep everyone safe this summer.

Be Our Eyes and Ears

If a person in need approaches you, or you observe someone who needs help and you believe this may be a medical or safety emergency, please contact 911 immediately.

Passed Out or Suffering from the Heat and Sun?

If a person appears passed out, do not assume they are "just drunk." Instead, call 911. People become dehydrated rapidly in extremely hot weather and anyone "passed out," lying in the sun, or badly sunburned is medically at risk. In addition, persons using opiates and are at risk of overdose may appear “passed out” or “nodding.” When in doubt, call 9-1-1 and describe the person, their clothing and exact location.

Water, Water Everywhere

Many homeless people do not have ready access to water. It is both compassionate and helpful to offer bottled water to homeless persons in addition to sunscreen or hats for sun protection. Suggesting moving into shaded areas may also help someone with sun or heat exposure.

A Place to Stay Inside

Homeless shelters listed below offer homeless adults who are particularly vulnerable or at risk of heat-related health problems the option of staying in for the day or coming back into the shelter early during hot weather advisories. During hot weather, emergency shelters for adults and day centers will be open to allow people to cool off, get hydrated and avoid the heat and humidity.

Still have questions? Contact:
Neighborhood Development
12 Channel Street
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02210
For medical emergencies, please call 911

People on the street who do not respond to verbal interactions, whether homeless or not, may be experiencing a medical crisis. When in doubt, call 911 for all emergencies.

Heat and Hot Weather Contact Information

If there are medical or safety issues related to the hot weather, any homeless families should be encouraged or assisted with activating the 9-1-1 system for health and wellness checks.

If a family is experiencing homelessness, has a child under the age of 21 or a woman is pregnant, the family may be eligible for placement in a family shelter. The Emergency Assistance program for families is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Families apply for shelter at offices based on where the family was last living or staying.

two state offices serve Boston families

For all Boston families except those living in East Boston  the DHCD office that provides assessments is:

Boston Family Housing
2201 Washington Street (Dudley Square)
Roxbury, MA 02119


For families living in East Boston, the DHCD office that covers this community is:

80 Everett Avenue
Chelsea, MA 02150

Families needing assessment or assistance evenings or weekends after business hours can contact Mayor Walsh's Office of Constituent Services 24 Hour Help Line at 311 or via Twitter: @BOS311

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