1500 Block of I Street NW, November 5
1500 Block of I Street NW, November 5

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D.C. is required by law to provide shelter for all homeless people when the temperature with windchill drops below freezing. This year, those so-called hypothermia conditions first set in two weeks ago. But last year, there weren’t enough beds to accommodate every homeless family, and so the District put up many of them in hotels, at a significant cost to the city. The crunch could now be even tighter, and D.C. may have to start booking hotel rooms in the suburbs to keep everyone warm and off the streets. Here’s a look at the daunting numbers, provided by the D.C. Department of Human Services, facing the city as winter approaches.

First day the temperature dropped below freezing this season: Nov. 13

Number of days last winter with hypothermia alerts: 99

Homeless families in D.C.:
2009: 703
2011: 858
2013: 983

Families needing shelter last winter: 463

Families expected to need shelter this winter: 509

Family shelter units available: 284

Cost of a hotel room for a homeless family for one night: $100

Monthly cost of a hotel room for a homeless family: $3,000

Total cost of putting up families in hotels last winter: $2,544,454.00

Homeless families already living at hotels as of September: 94

Photo by Darrow Montgomery