Taking Care of Our Vulnerable Homeless Community This Winter

Hypthermia Sign at Church

Updated Nov. 13, 2019

The temperatures are beginning to drop and there is no reason anyone should be left outside to fend for themselves in the freezing cold. Fairfax County is kicking off the Hypothermia Prevention Program on Nov. 15 to ensure no one is forced to sleep outside this winter.

The collaborative effort was created by the county, nonprofits and faith communities more than a decade ago.  Last winter, the program provided almost 1,200 people experiencing homelessness in our county with a warm, safe place to sleep and a healthy meal.

Imagine what it’s like to spend the night sleeping outside, behind a store, in the woods or in a car beside the road. For those experiencing homelessness in our county it is a frightening and potentially life-threatening reality.

Hypothermia Program Infographic



Call If You See Someone in Need

If you see someone at night who is unsheltered and you think he or she could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county’s non-emergency (police) phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.


Why We Need a Hypothermia Prevention Program

People can die from hypothermia, a condition brought on when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion.

Our Hypothermia Prevention Program is coordinated by the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, which contracts with four nonprofits to increase the number of available emergency shelter beds by hundreds each night throughout the winter, December to March.

This winter the nonprofits are working with 44 faith communities and coordinating 49 temporary shelter facilities to provide safe places to sleep indoors with sleeping bags or cots. Participating faith communities’ members also provide meals, transportation and often extras such as clothing donations. The county’s support services are also available at each site, including health and housing assistance.

During the freezing weather, the county also provides overnight shelter with a “no turn-away” policy at all of our  emergency homeless shelters.


Sleeping area at the Hypothermia Prevention Program in 2016 at Burke United Methodist Church.

Sleeping area at the Hypothermia Prevention Program at Burke United Methodist Church.


Learn More about this Lifesaving Program

Contact our Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and we’ll provide you with information on where the need is greatest or the nonprofit partner that is closest to where you live or work. Call 703-324-9492, TTY 711, or send an email.

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