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The Homeless And The Cold: A Dangerous Combination

Yesterday was brutally cold out. In fact, many of us can’t remember the last time we experienced single digits for a high. In some places, the temp hit about 7 – 10 degrees and stayed there for much of the day.

Tent City in the snow
Tent City in the snow (TheLakewoodScoop.com)

Although the temps are out of the five-minute-to-frostbite danger zone, it’s still freezing out there today. No one knows that better than the homeless living in Lakewood’s Tent City.

Of the 80 people living in the encampment, only a handful left to seek warmth. The Lakewood Police Department provided an escort to a local church being used as a temporary shelter. Minister Steve Brigham, who has been the leader of Tent City for the last seven years, tells us the others who stayed behind, didn’t want to go. Brigham explains “they had their reasons. This is their home. They didn’t want to leave it or their belongings behind. The County did not come by to check on anyone but we are thankful to the Lakewood PD for their assistance.”

The OEM provided blankets, cots, and meals that automatically heat up when the container is opened; and All Saints Episcopal Church, Madison Avenue between Second and Third streets, opened its doors to the homeless so they could get out of the cold.

Ocean County has a Code Blue Program to help those in need during extreme weather. Meredith Sheehan is with the Board of Social Services. She tells Townsquare Media “our policy is that the people out there who are in need of assistance must first contact us. We have 24/7 phone contact with anyone who needs to reach us. We advise everyone out in the cold to take refuge indoors. If you need help with placement, let us know.”

The Code Blue Program is initiated when weather poses a threat of serious harm or death to individuals without shelter by providing short term emergency sheltering.  The Program exists through a grant from the County that is processed by the Human Services Department who then contracts with the Ocean County Board of Social Services. Anyone in need of shelter during a Code Blue is encouraged to go to any of the three OCBOSS locations, Lakewood, Toms River, or Manahawkin Monday- Friday 8:30am- 4:30pm.

Anyone seeking assistance after normal work hours may contact the after hours number for the OCBOSS, listed below under Contact Information.

Code Blue Contact Information:
Ocean County Board of Social Services – 732-349-1500
After Hours Hotline (through CONTACT of Ocean) – 732-240-6100

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