NEW JERSEY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Kristin Corrado that provides additional funding for qualified Code Blue Shelters was approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“The services that our community-based organizations provide during extreme weather conditions are essential for protecting New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents,” said Corrado (R-40). “Legislative changes made to Code Blue alerts in recent years has led to more people using warming shelters when the temperature drops below freezing. Since they’re serving more people and staying open longer, these shelters can use more funding to support their operations.”
Municipalities, social service agencies, and certain nonprofit organizations provide warming shelters for at-risk individuals when counties declare a Code Blue Emergency. In 2020, legislation was enacted to expand the use of Code Blue alerts due to concerns that previous temperature requirements were leaving homeless residents at risk during severe winter weather.
As a result, the temperature required to trigger a Code Blue alert was increased from 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. These new regulations instructed warming shelters to open more frequently and for longer periods of times.
Senator Corrado’s bill, S-3600, accounts for their increased activity by establishing the Code Blue Shelter Matching Grant Program, under the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), to provide additional funding to qualifying community-based nonprofit organizations who offer shelter services during Code Blue alerts.
To qualify for a matching grant from the DCA, organizations must have received a grant from a county or municipality within 12 months of applying for the program. Additionally, the bill prohibits the DCA from awarding grants more than $50,000.
Under the bill, the DCA is instructed to maintain a record of each grant awarded to qualified organizations in every county and municipality.
“The protection of New Jerseyans must be the state’s top priority,” Corrado added. “The combination of Cold Blue alerts and warming shelters helps to save lives. This bill will ensure that the shelters that serve some of our most vulnerable residents will have the resources they need to operate.”