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Union County Begins Code Blue Emergency Shelter Initiative 2022-2023 Season

The Union County Department of Human Services will again institute the Countywide Code Blue (CB) Initiative in an effort to prevent death and injury among homeless and housing insecure persons during periods of extreme weather conditions with temperatures at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation.

“Last winter, over 5,000 placements were made in safe and secure shelter during a total of 91 Code Blue nights,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “Union County is proud to once again provide emergency shelter assistance to individuals and families in need during the coldest nights of winter.”

When extreme weather conditions are predicted, Union County Department of Human Services will implement a Countywide Code Blue.  During the Code Blue period, emergency shelters will be asked to increase their bed capacity.  Once shelters are filled to capacity, alternate arrangements will be coordinated by the Division of Human Services within the Department of Human Services and the State of New Jersey’s Homeless Hotline (NJ 211) outside of Division of Social Services business hours.

“The purpose of the Code Blue initiative is to keep our most vulnerable individuals out of harsh environments for their own health and safety,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, Liaison to the Human Services Advisory. “It is so important to keep people off the streets, but it becomes even more imperative in the brutal winter months. Our top priority is the safety of our residents and this service helps those most at-risk stay safe and warm.”

“Due to the adverse living situations experienced by homeless persons, the U.S. Census and other broad counts of the homeless are often underestimated,” said Director of Human Services, Debbie-Ann Anderson. “The support of community organizations, local police and social service providers is necessary to ensure that our most vulnerable residents seeking shelter are afforded an opportunity to come in from the cold during dangerous and severe weather conditions.”

Notification will be provided to municipal police departments via the County Police hotline by 10:00 a.m., when a Code Blue is called. Code Blue referrals will be accepted during daytime hours only between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. During these hours, homeless individuals and families should be referred to the Union County Division of Social Services, located at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth or 200 West 2nd Street in Plainfield.

For outside of the Division of Social Services business hours (8:30 am – 3:00 pm) and overnight assistance, the State of New Jersey’s Homeless Hotline (NJ 211) is available and can be reached by dialing 211 or 877-746-5211.  Municipalities are asked to accommodate homeless individuals locally overnight whenever possible.

All Code Blue alerts will be sent via the Union County First Alert system. For those wishing to register to receive First Alerts, should email codeblue@ucnj.org with the following information: first & last name, email address, and a request to be added to the distribution list. An email response containing a registration link allowing modification to account information will be sent.

For more details about the Countywide Code Blue Initiative, contact Agnes Oboz at (908) 527-4842 or via email at codeblue@ucnj.org.

To contact the Union County Department of Human Services, residents can use the online contact form at ucnj.org/dhs, email the DHS Action Line at DHSaction@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4847.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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