With Code Blue Coming to an End, Homeless Services Shift Gears

The warm days of mid-April bring a new feeling of assurance and excitement to many, but it also spells uncertainty for New York’s Homeless.

In New York State, Code Blue is in effect anytime the temperature reaches 32 degrees or lower. December 1st through April 15th is considered a mandatory Code Blue period. During these months, homeless people can be certain they will have a safe and free place to escape the elements. 

The state has mandated municipalities to find the homeless a place to stay, but it does reimburse them for the cost of the work.

St, John’s Community Services is one of the organizations doing this work in Tompkins County. Chris Teitelbaum is their Program Supervisor. 

For anyone without housing, he works to find a place to stay. Teitelbaum said, “During code blue we have to be really creative. So one thing that happens is we have clients that are essentially moved from the shelter to a motel to another motel to the shelter.”

However, with the mandatory code blue period at its end, homeless individuals must now find other arrangements. At this point, St. John’s will push people to work with the Department of Social Services or apply for grants to find an apartment .

Teitelbaum said he encourages people to take advantage of the services so St. John’s can be authorized to keep providing housing.

But many people often end up back on the streets, or living in the Jungle, Ithaca’s tent community, until Code Blue goes into effect once again.

With this in mind, Teitelbaum said, “But we have been for the past couple weeks working diligently with our partners, to remind people as they get people signed up with the services that can ensure that they stay housed, if that's if that's what they identify as their need.”