DC misreports number of hypothermia-caused deaths

Photo of tents with a sign that reads "Stop camp evictions." Also, a group of people in winter gear have a conversation to the right of the photo

Photo by Maydeen Merino

The Emergency Response and Shelter Operations Committee of the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) revealed in a meeting on May 25 that there had been an error in the reported number of unhoused individuals whose main cause of death was hypothermia in 2021.

The number had been previously reported as seven in the Winter Plan, made by the ICH. However, a policy analyst re-examined this report and found that the number included all hypothermia-related deaths in D.C., not solely those experiencing homelessness as the report had intended. Only two people experiencing homelessness had hypothermia as the main cause of death in 2021, according to the findings. 

Per an email statement from a representative of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the correction was made after an additional examination of all the data, and the office does not “anticipate any changes in policy or procedure.”

The Winter Plan comes in compliance with the Homeless Services Reform Act of 2005, an act established by the ICH that implements “planning, policymaking, program development, provider monitoring, and budgeting for the Continuum of Care of homeless services,” according to the committee website. 

Issues |Environment|Weather

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