Cumberland County Warming Centers Provide Emergency Shelter for Homeless During ‘Code Blue’ Conditions

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at noon on January 29.

BRIDGETON, N.J. — The City of Bridgeton’s “Code Blue” program provides homeless community members with essential shelter from frigid overnight conditions throughout the winter months.

Bridgeton mayor Albert B. Kelly issues “Code Blue” whenever overnight temperatures reach 32 degrees or colder with precipitation and 25 degrees or colder without precipitation. During these times, warming centers throughout the city house the homeless for the evening. These warming centers open at 6 p.m. and close at 6 a.m., and volunteers help keep the facilities running throughout the year.

If you’re interested in finding out more information about the city’s “Code Blue” initiative — including how you can volunteer to support those in need — you can call the mayor’s office at (856) 455-3230, ext. 200.

Last month, the River’s Edge Warming Center opened in Bridgeton and has been housing community members throughout the winter. The new warming center is located at 7 Washington St. in Bridgeton, and it was opened thanks to support from the Gateway Community Action Partnership, the M25 Initiative, and local government officials from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and City of Bridgeton.

“The homeless situation is always troubling and difficult. Adding in the COVID-19 concerns, the program is more difficult to operate, but at the same time, more essential to remain in operation,” Bridgeton mayor Albert B. Kelly said when the facility was opened.

According to the City of Bridgeton’s official website, a few other local institutions will also serve as warming centers throughout this winter. The St. Andrews Church, Bethany Grace Community Church, and Salvation Army have also agreed to help with the “Code Blue” initiative. However, the city’s website has a calendar that states the new facility at 7 Washington St. has been the only one utilized by local government in every instance of a “Code Blue” emergency since December 14.

Prior to the 14th, the St. Andrews Church, which is located at 186 E. Commerce St., was used for six “Code Blue” emergencies between December 4-9. The Parish of the Holy Cross, Bridge The Gap, and Hands of Compassion Ministry also offer temporary housing during Code Blue periods.

In addition to Bridgeton, there are other warming centers in Vineland for community members to utilize. The Cumberland Family Shelter and Salvation Army in Vineland offer similar services to the warming centers in Bridgeton.

Beyond Cumberland County, there are 23 warming centers available in Camden County for community members in need. You can find the full list of warming centers in the county here.

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