Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to help homeless individuals during severe winter weather events is now law after it was signed by Governor Chris Christie.
Sen. Tom Kean’s bill to help protect homeless individuals during the winter was signed into law. (©iStock)
“Extremely cold weather can put our homeless population in incredible danger,” Senator Kean said. “It’s important that we were able to move this legislation forward with plenty of time in the upcoming warm months to implement these changes and ensure we can help people this winter.”
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 our most vulnerable residents and save lives.”
Related Facebook Post: