City releases Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition’s 2021 Code Purple procedure manual

Press release from city of Asheville

Beginning Dec. 1, Code Purple emergency shelter is available to people experiencing homelessness when the temperature is at or below 32 degrees.

Code Purple is a long-standing community initiative to create additional shelter capacity on freezing nights to ensure survival.

There are two participating shelters this year: Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) will be providing Code Purple beds for men and Salvation Army will be providing Code Purple beds for women.

Code Purple is called in advance by the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition chair based on the forecast, and notification is sent out via the Homeless Coalition distribution list.

Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition’s 2021 Code Purple procedure manual

Purpose of CODE PURPLE

The purpose of the CODE PURPLE procedure is to provide a coordinated effort among Asheville and Buncombe County, North Carolina shelters and other organizations to provide emergency overflow shelter to people experiencing homelessness in the event of severe weather conditions.

In extremely cold conditions, the CODE PURPLE sites will provide shelter beyond their normal program capacity. CODE PURPLE does not include natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, or tornadoes; in these events, all citizens will be able to access services at the community disaster shelters.

CODE PURPLE Network Sites:

  • Homeward Bound A-Hope (day center: 828-252-8883)
  • Salvation Army (overnight emergency shelter, women and children only: 828-253-4723)
  • ABCCM Steadfast House – 141 Hillside St., Asheville NC, 28801 (overnight emergency shelter, men)

CODE PURPLE Network Partners: 

  • United Way’s 2-1-1 Information and referral line (dial 2-1-1 or 828-252-HELP (4357)
  • American Red Cross (crisis services)
  • BEACON members (crisis services)
  • Helpmate (overnight domestic violence shelter, call 24-hour crisis line: 828-254-0516)

Any changes made by CODE PURPLE Network Sites or Partners regarding contact information or services provided should be reported at the monthly Homeless Coalition Meetings, held the second Tuesday of every month at 1:00PM.

Contacts:  Tracey Childers, or Kerri Thomason, for information.

Target Population

The target populations for CODE PURPLE are women, children, and men who are experiencing homelessness. Providers will not screen for (i.e. ask specific questions about) the extent of homelessness.  No one will be turned away because they are not literally homeless.

When CODE PURPLE is called

CODE PURPLE will be called when the weather is extremely cold, specifically when:

The temperature is projected to be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, or equivalent with the wind-chill factor; other extreme temperatures that put people sleeping outside at severe risk for injury or death.

The above criteria are general guidelines and will be subject to the judgment of the CODE PURPLE provider team.

In the event of hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and other disasters, all citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County, including people experiencing homelessness, will be referred to sites in the community designated for such disaster response.  Response to these disasters is not included in this CODE PURPLE procedures manual. Buncombe County Emergency Management may be contacted through Van Taylor Jones, ES Director, 250-6600, 164 Erwin Hills Rd, 28806.

How CODE PURPLE is called:

An email is sent to all Coalition members including date(s) Code Purple is called, participating providers, and instructions for referring individuals seeking shelter. Code Purple must be called by noon the day prior to the date code is issued for to allow due preparation time for providers.

If the weather seems cold, get information from the National Weather Service as a basis for CODE PURPLE determination.

Contact by email or phone United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral line and the Asheville Police Department’s non-emergency line, 828-252-1110, each day that CODE PURPLE is enacted.

Send a press alert to the media each day that the CODE PURPLE is enacted. The press alert should include:

  • Date and Time alert was written
  • State that CODE PURPLE has been enacted for that day(s)

CODE PURPLE network partners are welcome to communicate their CODE PURPLE status in any way that works, such as posting on the agency website or putting up purple flags/posters in the windows of the agency.


CODE PURPLE Network Sites will make every attempt to serve everyone who presents to their site.

If the CODE PURPLE Network Site at which a person or family presents does not serve a particular population, offer a needed service, or is at capacity, then the staff at that site will refer the person or family to another appropriate site, either a CODE PURPLE network site or network partner.

The site staff will immediately call the site to which a person or family is referred to let them know that a person or family has just been referred to them and pass along any important information to the person or family in order to ensure a successful referral.

Public Safety Officers assisting people who have no place to sleep inside will be asked to take them to a Code Purple Network Site. All CODE PURPLE network and partner sites will accept persons throughout the night if accompanied by a Public Safety Officer.

If a CODE PURPLE Network Site is over capacity and cannot serve anyone else, the site should contact other Network Sites to alert them. If other Network Sites also cannot accommodate for the need, an emergency CODE PURPLE Network Site meeting should be called immediately to determine if additional emergency action needs to be taken.

Standard Rules for CODE PURPLE

Each CODE PURPLE site agrees to:

  • Accept high/intoxicated persons as long as they abide by other rules;
  • Accept mentally ill and physically disabled individuals;
  • Accept individuals regardless of race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation;
  • Make participation in religious activities voluntary

Guests, while on the premises of a CODE PURPLE site:

  • Will not use, sell, or have in their possession, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons or pornography;
  • Will refrain from violence, threats, and personal or racial slurs;
  • Will refrain from sexual activity;
  • Will not steal from the CODE PURPLE site, staff/volunteers, or other guests;
  • Agree to abide by all rules of relevant CODE PURPLE site.
  • If he or she does not abide by the rules, a guest may be segregated, transported to another CODE PURPLE site, have the police contacted on his/her behalf, or be asked to leave at the discretion of the person in charge at the particular site.

Independent Decisions Made By Each Site

Each CODE PURPLE site will determine its own policies in regard to the following:

  • Hours of Operation
  • Food service (if and what to serve)
  • Volunteer recruitment and training
  • Security
  • Zoning
  • Supplies
  • Maintenance of facility
  • Budget
  • Services to non-English speaking guests
  • Barring Guests
  • Additional rules to the standard CODE PURPLE rules (Above)

Ongoing Communication

A monthly CODE PURPLE update will be provided by Code Purple Network Sites Partners at Homeless Coalition meetings, held the second Tuesday of every month. Agencies in the “Code Purple Network” will discuss and resolve any issues as they arise during monthly Homeless Coalition Meetings.

This CODE PURPLE procedure manual will be reviewed by the Homeless Coalition and all listed CODE PURPLE Network Sites and Partners each fall and updated as needed.

CODE PURPLE Network Sites

Homeward Bound

  • Men and women
  • Day center only
  • A HOPE Day Center: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and Wednesday 8 a.m.-11:30a.m.

Salvation Army

  • Contact Evelyn Ball,, 828-253-4723
  • Women and children
  • Entry 6-7 p.m. Law enforcement and paramedic escorts after hours

ABCCM Steadfast House

  • John Whitt, contact, 828-259-5333
  • Men
  • Entry 4 p.m. throughout the night. Law enforcement and paramedic escorts also after hours
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