White Flag Warming Centers

On dangerously cold nights this winter, the Interactive Resource Center, YWCA and Greensboro Urban Ministry will be working with the city to ensure those who are living outside have a safe place to escape the frigid temperatures.

For those experiencing homelessness who are not staying in shelters, living outside in places unfit for human habitation often becomes the only viable choice. As temperatures fall, this creates a highly dangerous situation for our most vulnerable neighbors.


This winter, the city and agencies will continue to declare white flag emergency conditions when temperatures drop to a wind chill of 25 degrees or colder for two hours or more. White flag specifically means that additional emergency warming centers will be opened that follow relaxed rules so people can get in out of the cold overnight. A warming center is a large heated space with chairs rather than beds that allows people to sit indoors out of the cold. It does not typically provide shelter beds.

Lack of affordable housing pushes many in poverty out of their housing and into shelters. For those who may face additional challenges, such as a prior criminal record that includes sex offenses, finding shelter can be difficult.

“It’s absolutely essential that people experiencing homelessness have a safe place to stay on dangerously cold nights,” said the executive directors of the three agencies in a joint statement. “The goal of this collaboration is real and urgent: To keep people from freezing to death.”

To learn more about how to support the white flag emergency response, please contact the Interactive Resource Center, www.gsodaycenter.org, or (336) 322-0824. Click here to donate to a fund specifically to support the white flag response.

News & Record columnist Susan Ladd wrote about the agencies’ work this winter in the Sunday, December 13, 2015 edition of the paper.