Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to help homeless individuals during severe winter weather events was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean Jr. to establish Code Blue homeless protection programs was passed by the New Jersey Senate. (©iStock)
“We saw just last week the kind of nasty cold and wet weather a New Jersey winter can bring,” Senator Kean said. “Now, we’re one step closer to ensuring that more of our state’s homeless individuals have a warm shelter to stay on harsh winter nights.”
The bill, S-1088, requires county offices of emergency management to coordinate with municipalities with a documented homeless population of at least 10 people to develop consistent Code Blue alert plans throughout the county. After a county emergency management coordinator declares a Code Blue, local law enforcement is notified so they can go out on patrols and locate at-risk individuals.
A Code Blue is triggered when temperatures will reach 25 degrees Fahrenheit or colder without precipitation or will reach 32 degree or colder with precipitation. It is also triggered when the wind-chill temperature reaches zero degrees or less for two hours or more.
The state already has 15 counties that have already established Code Blue Programs. Several municipalities also have their own programs. However, the protocols of each program vary, and the new legislation establishes statewide procedures and standards.
“No one should have to spend a night outside in the bitter cold of winter,” Senator Kean said. “We have a chance to help some of most vulnerable residents and save lives.”
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