As temperatures drop, desperation for shelter grows in Garden State

Many communities throughout New Jersey have enacted Code Blue protocols as temperatures drop to dangerous levels.
There is no escape from the cold temperatures for some and conditions can become dangerous quickly.
In New Jersey, there is nearly 8,900 people experiencing homeless on any given day, according to the state’s Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“When you’re in a position of being homeless or there’s no heat in the home, you don’t know when you’re going to be warm and that’s a dangerous situation to be in mentally and physically,” says Director of Essex County Senior Services Maurice Brown.
Code Blue establishes a network of agencies like police and social service organizations springing into action to provide transportation, shelter or warming centers to those in need during the coldest times of the year.
There are four shelters in Essex County, but during the pandemic, being cold is only a portion of the concern.
“As the participants are coming into the shelter taking our temperatures, they are also providing rapid testing to get a COVID status before they are entered into the shelter,” says Essex County Director of Community Action Terrence McCoy.
The pandemic has left many with nowhere to go but community leaders hope to receive more referrals helping to keep people safe and alive.
Anyone in need of assistance can call 211.