The Bowery Mission is no longer opening its chapel to unhoused people during nights when temperatures would dip below freezing overnight—known as Code Blue.

Since last November, the 150-year-old organization has discontinued its Code Blue shelter programming, the organization's interim chief executive officer James Winans confirmed.

"We decided that we were not offering a service that was excellent," Winans told Gothamist. "We strive to offer excellent programs in all that we do."

At the mission's Tribeca shelter, about 194 people can sleep overnight 365 days a year in dormitory-style bunk beds with showers and locked-storage for both men and women. At the Bowery location, about 150 men could sleep on mats in the chapel area of the building during nights when temperatures drop below freezing.

"We came to the conclusion that was not the level of care and the level of excellent care that we wanted to offer our guests," Winans said. He added the program was suspended after a year of conversations about the possibility.

In the winter of 2018 to 2019, the Bowery chapel sheltered people for 118 nights.

"Guests in need of Code Blue shelter will be referred to partnering agencies and shelters," read an email sent internally last November that was obtained by the New York Times, which first reported the policy change. When bus or subway service is cut for extreme weather, the organization would provide "overnight warming centers," according to the email.

The mission lists five locations in New York City on its website for code blue services at partnering agencies and shelters. The Tribeca shelter remains open, and Winans pointed to other programming the mission offers at nine different locations in New York, Newark, New Jersey and a summer camp in Pennsylvania.

In 2019, there were an estimated 3,588 unsheltered people on January 28th, when the Department of Homeless Services conducted its annual count—the lowest count since 2017 but higher than when Mayor Bill de Blasio first took office.

Last October, the dangers homeless people face was brutally underscored when four men were beaten to death in their sleep while sleeping outside in Chinatown last year by another homeless man. Since then, the de Blasio administration said it would spend $21 million to treat seriously mentally ill New Yorkers.

Meanwhile, the MTA has hired 500 new subway police officers to enforce "quality of life" issues, including homelessness in the subway system, where homeless people find often find refuge. In recent months, backrests of benches have been removed to deter people from sleeping in subway stations and videos of people being forcibly kicked out of subway stations have been widely circulated.

Winans declined to detail the cost of operating Code Blue services, or if resources from the program would be shifted elsewhere instead.

"When our resource level changes, we have to make decisions about what level of service we'll be offering," he said. Asked if the new policy would change in the future, he said, "Each year we would re-evaluate that choice."