“How-To” Guide – Dealing with Extreme Cold

Landlords in Chicago must heat residential buildings to at least 68 degrees during the day and 66 degrees overnight (from September 15 to June 1). 

If you are unable to resolve a heating problem with your landlord, call our Hotline between 1-5PM, M-F at 773-292-4988. You can also send your landlord a 24-hour notice using Squared Away Chicago.

It is vital to know your rights and to look out for the homeless, elderly, and your most vulnerable neighbors during extremely cold weather.

  • If you are worried that your pipes might freeze, leave the tap dripping overnight to ensure they do not freeze. Also, put a towel under your door to help keep the heat inside.
  • When it snows, make sure to clear off sidewalks for the elderly, disabled and young children in strollers. For snow removal assistance, call 311 or click HERE
  • Keep extra hats, gloves and scarves with you when you’re on the move. Your extra gloves might save someone’s fingers from frostbite.

Call 3-1-1 to:

  • Request a well-being check for someone suffering due to extreme weather
  • Report inadequate heat in a residential building (inspections can take up to 3 days!)
  • Learn about programs that assist with home heating costs
  • Connect to shelter and supportive services

IMPORTANT NOTE: Anytime you call 311, get a reference # so you have a record of your call!

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) operates six Warming Centers during work weekdays when temperatures dip below 32 degrees. DFSS Warming Centers are not open on weekday holidays unless specifically indicated. Additional facilities are opened as needed including Senior Centers, libraries, and Park District buildings, so it is important to call 3-1-1 for info concerning Warming Center locations during off hours and on weekday holidays. The centers below are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Friday (but hours may be extended during extreme cold.)


 Garfield Center (Open 24/7)
10 S. Kedzie Ave.

Chicago, IL 60612

Englewood Center
1140 W. 79th Street

Chicago, IL 60620

King Center
4314 S. Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60653

  North Area 
845 W. Wilson Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

South Chicago
8650 S. Commercial Ave.
Chicago, IL 60617

Trina Davila
4357 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639

Make a Difference this Giving Tuesday!

This Giving Tuesday, Give to the expecting mother, and her 3 young children, whose only wish is to secure decent housing. No child should have to live with a falling ceiling that impacts their safety and their quality of air. This family has lived in their Englewood apartment for 5 years with little to no repairs by the owner. MTO is supporting the resilient mom who is learning and advocating her rights to safe and decent housing.  Your donation to MTO helps keep this family and others from being homeless this holiday season. Stable housing is the gift that keeps giving. Help make a difference by donating HERE today. 


HELP Educate. HELP Organize. HELP Empower.                                      

The mission of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization is to educate, organize and empower tenants to have a voice in the decisions that affect the affordability and availability of safe, decent and accessible housing.

Youth Stand Up for Parkway Gardens

One of the most effective ways to get involved in improving your community is to join or form your local Tenant Association. Young people at Parkway Gardens have done just that; they formed a Youth Tenant Council. Parkway Gardens’ teens are organizing to ensure they have a voice in the decisions affecting them and their community. The teens formed the council to focus on issues impacting young people at Parkway Gardens.


The youth are concerned about resources available to employ teenagers, crime in their neighborhood, and creating solutions to issues that plague their community. In the short time the Youth Tenant Council has been meeting, they’ve made their presence known. They met with the Building Manager to articulate their vision for Parkway Gardens. Management agreed with the need for resources to employ youth in the community, and committed to start providing youth with stipends to write stories, take pictures, and document the progress of work in the community gardens.  The group also met with CAPS to create a working relationship between police and community, and to express their concerns about the lack of safety along King Drive, which is where most of the violence takes place, as described by community. The Youth Council created a petition and are now gathering signatures demanding increase to resources for community safety through the Chicago Police Department.
Empowering youth to identify and respond to community needs helps us all become more empathetic and reflective community and instills a sense of hope in our present and future. As youth and community organize together, young people (and not so-young people) realize their the power to influence decisions impacting their communities the most. Consistently, research suggests youth who are engaged in their communities are less likely to fall into the traps of school-to-prison pipeline. As young people work for change and the future they envision for Parkway Gardens they are gaining and sharing skills to be the leaders of today and tomorrow

MTO receives 2017 HMRPG Social Justice Award

Like healthcare, housing is a human right”, said John Bartlett, MTO’s Executive Director, Friday night while receiving the 2017 Health and Medicine Policy Research Group Award at the #hmprggala. The Health and Medicine Policy Research Group (Health & Medicine) held the Awards Gala to honor the accomplishments of activists and professionals making important strides towards health equity and social justice. MTO was recognized for its work protecting tenants health and promoting social justice in housing.  

“Like Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, MTO believes that it is essential to work at the intersection of different social needs”, said John Bartlett, MTO’s Executive Director. It is when we work at these intersections that we begin to understand the barriers to health and well-being. For instance, if a family does not have a decent, stable home, children will not do as well in school. And without a good education, it is harder to get a good job. And without a job it is next to impossible to obtain a stable decent home, and on and on. It is for this reason that we maintain that ike healthcare, housing is a human right”.

To see a list of this years Award Winners, click here