Feb 9, 2022 - News

When temperatures drop, Atlanta's warming shelters heat up

Mayor Andre Dickens looks at a table covered with oranges and bottles of water at a warming center for unsheltered people
Mayor Andre Dickens tours a warming center at the Old Adamsville Rec Center. Photo: Courtesy of the City of Atlanta

When temperatures dip to dangerous levels, city workers and nonprofit partners use Atlanta rec centers to help unsheltered people stay warm, fed and safe. Here's how the warming centers work.

Why it matters: More than 3,240 people live on the streets, in shelters or in transitional conditions, according to the most recent city point-in-time census of people experiencing homelessness. They're particularly vulnerable to serious injury or death in harsh winter conditions.

This winter, the city has opened the centers a total of 28 nights, the mayor's office says. Nearly 1,100 people have checked in a total of 3,856 times.

Details: Three conditions will trigger the city to open the warming centers at the Old Adamsville and Central Park rec centers, the mayor's office tells Axios Atlanta:

  • If temperatures are projected to drop to (or dip below) 32 degrees for more than five hours.
  • If forecasts call for freezing temperatures and winter precipitation.
  • Or if city officials expect more than 1 inch of snow to stick to the ground.

City staffers register guests upon their arrival and offer to connect them with services like transportation, housing or other assistance.

  • Guests receive a meal and are given a cot with a pillow and linens. Showers are available, as are toiletries like a shaving kit and towel. In some cases, donated clothing, blankets and other materials are available.

The Old Adamsville location is not near rail transit; the city does run a shuttle bus from the Gateway Center to the centers.

Take action: Call 311 if you know or see someone who needs assistance in cold weather. To donate non-perishable items like clothing, shoes and toiletries, contact Partners for HOME or drop off supplies at a warming center once they're activated.

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