Code Blue Law Will Require Counties to Establish Shelters During Severe Weather Events
On February 13, 2017, the Code Blue bill (S1088) was approved by the NJ State Senate with a vote of 32-3.
The bill is S1088 “Requiring county emergency management coordinators to establish Code Blue Program to shelter homeless during severe weather events” now awaits Governor Chris Christie signature to become law.
The bill was amended in the Senate to rake effect immediately not in four months as originally written. So the bill goes back to the Assembly for concurrence.
With the arrival of the coldest weather this year we need Code Blue statewide in NJ now more than ever.
“Homelessness is an emergency every day across New Jersey and especially so on bad weather days like we’ve had recently. With Code Blue legislation in place, New Jersey citizens experiencing homelessness will be better protected from exposure in extreme weather situations,” said Laura Rodgers, LCSW, Chief Program Officer, Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties.
- New Jersey has only a partial statewide network of shelters and warming centers throughout most counties.
- Not all counties participate in this alert system. A Code Blue alert for counties that do is typically issued once temperatures drop to 32 degrees or below.
- Each county/municipality has a different protocol about weather and temperature guidelines. Essex County will only issue an alert if the temperature drops below 15 degrees.
- An alert is declared whenever temperatures drop below the freezing point and weather conditions pose a danger to the homeless population.
- An alert allows authorities to take homeless people to local shelters or other agencies, known as Warming Centers. These shelters make additional beds and space available until conditions improve and the alert is called off.
“With the arrival of the coldest weather this year we need Code Blue statewide in NJ now more than ever. Code Blue is the first step in ending homelessness in NJ. By providing shelter we can help our homeless neighbors find a place to call home,” said Monarch’s CEO Richard W. Brown.
Legal Services New Jersey has compiled a list of Warming Centers across the state. Please note Code Blue shelters and Warming Centers are only able to help people in need when a Code Blue has been issued by the county.
To find out if a Code Blue Alert has been issued in a particular county, please contact either the local police municipalities or visit the county/town website.
On January 30, 2017, the S-1088 was passed unanimously by Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee except for the vote of one legislator – Senator Steven V. Oroho – who abstained.