Code Blue Law Requires Counties to Establish Shelters During Severe Weather Events
On May 11, 2017, Governor Christie signed a bill that requires county emergency management coordinators to establish a Code Blue Program to shelter the homeless during severe weather events.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey Staci Berger issued the following statement about the new law:
“We are happy the governor has signed this bill that provides individuals out on the street with a warm place to rest during severe weather events. Homelessness is an emergency every day but when temperatures drop below freezing, it’s life or death.
“The level of services available throughout the state has varied widely, which is dangerous and unacceptable. Statewide standards have been desperately needed to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors who need shelter, especially in extreme weather. We thank the co-sponsors of this bill, Assemblymen Land and Andrzejczak and Senator Van Drew, and the homelessness prevention advocates who fought to prevent anyone from being left out in the cold.”
Congratulations to everyone who called and e-mailed, making this possible.
“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.
“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.
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.