Our White (or Red) Flag Programs are seasonal programs that offer additional emergency shelter for men, women, and children. It is a unique and incredibly important program in our community. The program started in the winter of 2009-10 in partnership with the Pigeon Township Trustee’s Office.
How/when is White/Red Flag called?
- When the temperatures are going to be below 32 degrees for 3 consecutive hours overnight.
- On any evening following a day when there has been a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning issued by the National Weather Service for Vanderburgh County and temperatures do not cool below 80 degrees for more than 3 consecutive hours overnight.
What happens to allow White/Red flag to happen?
This program happens in the Day Shelter (at night) and UCS staff typically determines whether or not there will be White/Red Flag by 12:00 pm (Noon). White/Red Flag hours are typically from the time when we are able to convert the Day Shelter (by) 7:00 pm – 6:00 am. To set up, we move and stack all of the tables and chairs in the Day Shelter and put sleep mats on the floor. The reverse is done in the morning to prepare for regular shelter operations.
Who can utilize White/Red flag?
Everyone is welcome at White/Red Flag. Men, women, children, drunk or sober are allowed to come in, out of the life-threatening elements, to spend the night in a safe place. Each guest is assigned a mat, a blanket, and provided a cup for water. This program is a matter of life and death — a matter of compassion and dignity. While all are welcome, standard shelter rules for behavior still apply and disruptive guests may be asked to leave. No outside food or drink is allowed in the shelter. Restroom services (but no showers, laundry, clothing, or hygiene supply) are available.
How has COVID-19 affected White Flag?
The pandemic is still affecting White Flag because of the needed social distancing precautions and the limited space we have in our Day Shelter. Over the past 4-5 years, the average daily use of White Flag has increased 33% to 38 people a night and the peak numbers have increased as well. At those peak times (60 people), our space is at capacity. With 2021 social distancing precautions in place, we are able to shelter 45 people in White Flag.
2021 UPDATE: UCS will return the operation of White Flag to the UCS Day Shelter. As a highly-anticipated pilot program, we will be offering White Flag every night during the months of December, January, and February. The months of November, March, and April will operate “normally’ based on weather. This program improvement for the 2021 – 2022 season is made possible thanks to new funding and support from Aurora and the ongoing partnership with Pigeon Township. Read the full 11/10/21 press release HERE.
As of 11/10/21, UCS has already held three white flag evenings averaging 21 people each night.
This program is made possible every year by the generous support of the Pigeon Township Trustee’s Office.
Bed/nights of additional emergency shelter provided in 2021
were helped, on average, each night during white flag in 2021