Bowery Mission Closes Chapel Doors to Area Homeless on Frigid Nights

Posted on: March 6th, 2020 at 5:09 am by

The Bowery Mission this winter terminated its longstanding practice of opening the chapel to homeless when the temperature drop to dangerous levels.

For years, the Bowery Mission opened their small church on cold nights so that area homeless could sleep indoors and on the floor. But last fall, the chief program officer announced a new policy in an internal email, according to a report in the New York Times yesterday.

“The Bowery Mission will NOT be offering Code Blue Shelter at Bowery, Tribeca or Newark campuses this winter,” the November communique read. Code Blue is the phrase used by city officials when the nighttime temperature drops below freezing, including wind chill.

For comparison, last winter, the mission offered Code Blue shelter on 118 nights.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

James Winans, the mission’s interim chief executive, said the decision to discontinue its Cold Blue program had been made after long deliberation, partly because it was meant only to supplement shelter offered by the city and partly because those seeking shelter would be better off in a setting with beds and other amenities.

Mr. Winans did not provide a figure for how much it cost to offer Code Blue shelter. Asked if finances were a factor in the decision to end that program, he said: “We are always adjusting our plan according to our resources.”

The Code Blue policy change at the mission, coming against the backdrop of gentrification, has prompted questions about how the mission sees its role at a time when a record number of people in New York City are homeless.

The Bowery shelter, founded in 1879, provides free meals three times a day, free medical services three times a week, as well as access to showers for nonresidents twice a week.

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