Chicago, IL

Chicago Warming Centers Open During Bitterly Cold Weather

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

As temperatures in Chicago dip into the single digits with windchills well below zero, warming centers around the city are available
Photo byHippopx (CC0 1.0 - Public Domain)

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (CDFSS) have opened warming shelters for the duration of below freezing temperatures. A warming center is a place residents can go to keep warm on very cold days. Chicago operates six different warming facilities open on weekdays during work hours. Additional options include libraries, police stations and other facilities that make shelter available on weekends, holidays and after hours. (See below for complete list of Cook County warming centers.) Additionally, the Garfield Center, which can be found at 10 S. Kedzie Avenue, is open 24/7 to help resident find an emergency shelter for hours the other warming centers are closed. For seniors in Chicago, there are 21 senior centers open during regular weekday work hours.

While options are available for the homeless during dangerously cold weather, many advocates criticize Chicago for piecemeal efforts and lack of enough temporary and other housing, saying that the homeless population needs to know where they can go before the extreme winter weather arrives. They cite unpredictable weather conditions and the fact that warming centers and shelter quickly become overburdened when severe weather hits. The fact that only six warming center exist for all of Chicago, and only one is 24 hours a day 7 days a week has also been criticized. They advocate for more stable options for the homeless year around and in particular, during the harsh Chicago winters.

The six Chicago warming centers are:

  • Englewood Community Service Center 1140 W. 79th St
  • Garfield Community Service Center 10 S. Kedzie King (open 24/7)
  • Community Service Center 4314 S. Cottage Grove North
  • Area Community Service Center 845 W. Wilson Ave.
  • South Chicago Community Service Center 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
  • Trina Davila Community Service Center 434312 W. North Avenue

With the exception of the Garfield facility, these centers are open 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. The hours may be extended when the weather is extreme and other warming centers may be opened for off hours, weekends and holidays. Call 311 to check on the current list of open shelters, warming centers, and support services, including requesting a well being check for someone who may be in danger due to the cold weather.

See below for a list of all warming centers in Cook County along with the hours they are open here:

Cook County Warming Centers 2023

This video provides tips on avoiding frostbite:

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