Program Contact: Maureen Segale-Glenn
Phone Number: 908-527-4838 | E-mail Address:


About the Initiative

In an effort to respond to the plight of homeless individuals and families during severe winter weather, Union County Department of Human Service, in concert with the Division of Emergency Management and Union County Police implemented a Countywide Code Blue (CB) in December 2007 to prevent death and injury among homeless people during periods of extreme weather conditions. Union County’s CB initiative is the first countywide service of its kind in New Jersey. As a model for innovation and responsiveness, CB received the 2009 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.

A CB alert starts with the Union County Office of Emergency Management, which transmits warnings of severe, potentially life-threatening cold weather from the National Weather Service.  The threshold for activating CB is an overnight temperature below 25 degrees Fahrenheit or temperature of below 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation. The alert goes out to the county’s Department of Human Services, which notifies emergency shelters, community organizations, and the County Police. The County Police get the word out to law enforcement personnel in all 21 municipalities. The early warning gives communities time to identify and locate people potentially in need of help. Shelters get time to arrange for extra beds using cots provided by the County. County and municipal police go on the lookout for persons needing shelter, and assist them with transportation.

All CB shelter placements are made by the Division of Social Services.  During the CB period emergency shelters are expected to increase bed capacity.  Once shelters are filled to capacity alternate arrangements will be made by Union County Division of Social Services.  Along with providing temporary shelter, CB helps tackle issues related to chronic homelessness.  Persons seeking emergency shelter on a CB alert are provided with screening and counseling to help them get back on their feet over the long run.


Code Blue Procedures

  • CB will be activated by Union County Department of Human Services.
  • Municipal Police Departments will be notified when a CB is activated.
  • The UCDHS/Division of Planning will notify organizations when a CB is activated by 10:00 a.m. via the Union County First Alert system. It is the responsibility of the member agencies to register for First Alert (instructions on registration are listed below).
  • Emergency shelters are expected to extend their capacity to highest possible levels on these nights.
  • All CB placements will be made by the Union County Division of Social Services.
  • Individuals and families should be referred to UCDSS and arrive between 8:30 A.M.-4:00 P.M.
  • After hour shelter is available at the Salvation Army in Elizabeth and the Plainfield Area YMCA in Plainfield. Both shelters will accept walk-ins when possible during a
  • Municipal Police Departments have been asked to transport individuals found on the street during a CB to UCDSS between the business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Reminder –  On days when CB is not activated, after hour referrals should continue to be directed to Plainfield Area YMCA at (908) 756-6061 after 4:00 p.m.



All CB alerts will be sent via the Union County First Alert system.  Please log on to to register and follow the instructions below:

If you are new to First Alert: On the left column click New User (if you have not previously signed up for First Alert). Enter in your name and e-mail you would like to receive the CB First Alerts at, create a password and agree to the policy then validate.  On the next screen type in your home zip code, then click continue.  The next screen will verify how you will get notifications.  Click continue.  The next screen under Public Information, click Homeless Providers to add this group to your notifications.  Click continue.  You have just signed up for the CB notification.  It will take you to the main screen and you can log out.

If you already have a First Alert account: Log in and under My Alerts, select Homeless Providers under Public Information. Click continue to save.  You have just signed up for the CB notification.  It will take you to the main screen and you can log out.