Based on the extreme cold weather emergency in December 2022, Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) has developed a series of tiered operations to provide a coordinated response to environmental conditions – hot or cold – that may impact people in the community. These services include assisting with warming shelter operations during cold temperatures and closely monitoring weather conditions, shelter usage, and bed capacity for possible expansion.
The ACC Fire and Emergency Services Department leads the coordination of the tiered responses in conjunction with other ACCGov departments, the American Red Cross, and community partners as part of its emergency management functions.
During cold weather conditions:
Tier 1 is triggered at 35° to 40° and expands current overnight service providers by 30 more beds to raise overnight accommodations from 109 to 139 beds at Bigger Vision and the Salvation Army.
Tier 2 is a further expansion triggered by more extreme temperatures (single digit temperatures) and capacity needs that open overflow beds. This would open shelter operations at Athens First United Methodist Church downtown.
Tier 3 is capacity based and moves other community spaces, such as Twin Angels, churches, and non-profits, into operation as shelters or to provide other means of support, including hotel vouchers.
Tier 4 is full activation of an Athens-Clarke County operated shelter(s) that can sleep up to 75 people in any need. Tier 4 is activated based on capacity of Tier 1-3 facilities, a State of Emergency declared by the Georgia Governor, and possible large-scale impacts to the community including power loss possibilities and ice.
In addition, ACCGov staff and community partners are actively seeking other locations that would be interested in a Tier 2 and Tier 3 role if cots, blankets, pillows, and other resources are provided by ACCGov.
As part of the Tier 1 response, these community organizations will provide expanded overnight shelter on an emergency basis as space is available for those without housing or shelter:
Salvation Army of Athens Center of Hope
Bigger Vision of Athens
Additional resources in areas such as clothing, food, and other needs can be found at the Homeless Coalition of Northeast Georgia's website at https://endathenshomelessness.com/resources.
Flyers with shelter information are being provided to public and private first responders, homeless coalition partners, hospital staff, bus drivers, and other community partners to distribute to individuals in the community who may need shelter assistance during cold weather conditions.