Community Partners Wrap Up Successful Hypothermia Prevention Season


April 22, 2014

News Highlights

  • No weather-related deaths were reported in Fairfax County for 2013-2014 cold season.
  • Resources were used to provide warmth during record-breaking cold temperatures.
  • Collaboration between government, nonprofits and faith community was key to program’s success.

Warmer temperatures are finally coming to our area, and with them come the end of the 2013-2014 Hypothermia Prevention Season. Despite record-breaking low temperatures that embraced the region during the winter’s “Polar Vortex,” the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness was able to provide warmth and shelter for hundreds of our community’s most vulnerable neighbors. Due to the partnership's efforts, the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH) shares that there were no deaths reported due to hypothermia during the recent winter season.

The season began as a challenging one, as partners had to assess their facilities to meet the critical requirements of building and fire code compliance while still providing the capacity needed to serve those in need across the county. The solution was found as the result of a huge team effort including county staff from the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, Fire and Rescue and Code ComplianceFaith Communities in Action staff; nonprofit provider staff; faith community members; community partners and more. "While finding enough beds to accommodate all in need seemed impossible at times, the community partners providing services this season stepped up and did all they could to make sure that no one died due to the extreme weather," notes OPEH Director Dean Klein.

The hypothermia prevention season began on Nov. 24 with FACETS opening its faith community doors to provide hot meals and warm shelter. Cornerstones, New Hope Housing and Volunteers of America Chesapeake followed with centers opening Dec.1. Many nonprofit partners, along with their paired faith community partners, provided additional transportation options for individuals who were homeless to and from overnight and daytime shelters. Many of these nonprofit providers, faith communities and county program partners extended and flexed the usual hours of operations, leveraging additional resources. These efforts to bridge one site and organization to another, paired with the county’s warming centers, provided 24-hour shelter from the elements for many individuals.

This collaborative approach to providing shelter was an essential part to a community wide response to the cold winter season and has set the groundwork to ensure success in future hypothermia seasons.

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