Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Thursday requiring county governments to issue Code Blue Alerts and ensure plans are in place to shelter at-risk people during a severe weather.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, requires the county and municipal offices of emergency management to work together to develop Code Blue emergency plans that include shelters for homeless people.
The law, which takes effect immediately, also requires the county emergency management coordinator to declare a Code Blue emergency when temperatures are predicted to fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit without precipitation and 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation.
Almost 9,000 homeless people are in New Jersey on any night, according to 2016 analysis. About 1,500 — 559 of them veterans — were found in unsheltered locations.
“We have a responsibility in government to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Particularly in extreme weather conditions, we have to make sure that we identify residents in need of shelter and ensure they have access to warming centers where they will be safe,” Van Drew wrote in a statement. “This will require a coordinated plan in each county for issuing an alert when temperatures reach certain levels and for providing shelter for homeless residents.”