With little in the way of government services, faith-based organizations step in to make a difference.
Some of the men look like you expect homeless to look. Probably not as old as they look. Beards. Heavy clothes. Not dirty, but they clearly didn’t walk out of a board meeting. But there’s also a young couple. She’s pregnant. By law the men and women stay in different rooms, and sleep on folding cots provided Middle Township’s Emergency Management Service.
Last year the County would hand out vouchers that could be redeemed at local participating motels. But they changed their rules this year and have deemed that it’s up to the municipalities to handle the situation. They’ve also changed the rules so that vouchers are only given to adults with dependent children. Single adults have to find a warming station.
I’ve stopped by Cape Hope’s temporary warming station, which is the official designation of the facilities at Cape Community Church in Cape May Court House, during a Code Blue.
Code Blue is the state emergency designation for when the temperature drops into dangerous territory. According to the statues, “a Code Blue is required within 24 to 48 hours of one of the following, based on National Weather Service forecasts: temperatures 25 degrees or lower without precipitation, 32 degrees or lower with precipitation or wind chills at or below 0 for a period of two or more hours.”
The low tonight is supposed to be 25° with 10-20 mph winds. It’s supposed to be even colder tomorrow and then snow Sat-Sun.
Technically I don’t think Monday counts even though the forecast is for a low of 25°. Tuesday won’t even come close because the temperature will get up to a balmy 30°.
Anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to get a cot at the Cape Hope facility is either toughing it out in the woods, or they have the option of going to one of the other warming stations in the county. The rest of these are all police stations, one of which doesn’t even have chairs in the lobby and no bathroom.
Tomorrow, we will visit Branches in Rio Grande, which will be open from 6am to 6pm due to the Code Blue.