06-18-2018  2:06 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
Joint Office of Homeless Services
Published: 21 February 2018

Continuing frigid temperatures and the chance for additional snow mean the Joint Office of Homeless Services will keep warming centers open throughout Multnomah County on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and Thursday, Feb. 22. Severe weather centers do not require identification or any other documentation. No one seeking shelter during severe weather will be turned away.

Also, because of what's now looking like at least a five-day stretch of dangerous nighttime temperatures, starting last Sunday, service providers are doubling down on their calls for donations of life-saving winter gear, particularly items such as waterproof hats, gloves and coats. More information on what to donate, and where to take it, is at 211info.org/donations.

Transition Projects will open severe weather shelters tonight at Bud Clark Commons (655 NW Hoyt, in Portland), Imago Dei (1302 SE Ankeny, in Portland) and Sunrise Center (18901 E Burnside, in Gresham). All three shelters will be open to adults, couples and pets from 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, to 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. Sunrise Center will also be open to families with children.

In addition, to offer additional beds outside the central city so people don't have to travel downtown or to the central eastside for shelter, Multnomah County Emergency Management will open a warming center in a building managed by the Department of Community Justice, at 1415 SE 122nd Ave in Portland. The shelter will be open from 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, to 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, for adults, couples, families with children, and pets.

Go to 211info.org or call 211 for the latest information on which shelters are open, and when, and to coordinate transport for anyone who needs shelter but does not have a way to get there. Families with children in particular should contact 211 directly to access and arrange transport as needed to severe weather shelter.   

Bud Clark Commons, Imago Dei and Sunrise Center are the first sites opened by the Joint Office in any severe weather emergency. All three sites continue to be at or near capacity. In addition, several dozen more people have accessed shelter at community-led sites, pushing those shelter to near capacity. 

The Joint Office of Homeless Services will continue to monitor weather conditions and open additional emergency warming centers as needed. Anyone in need, or who knows someone in need, should check ongoing communications about available shelter by visiting 211info.org and signing up for alerts.

Officials have worked with providers, before severe weather, to open nearly 300 seasonal beds in Multnomah County that are open nightly all winter long. Those beds are in addition to nearly 1,400 beds open year-round. The beds that open in warming centers are in addition to the seasonal and year-round beds provided in the community.

Please donate winter gear

Providers are also strongly urging donations of winter gear. After a stretch of milder weather this winter, many neighbors sleeping without shelter still don't have all the gear they’ll need during a cold spell to stay warm.

Please visit 211info.org/donations to see a specific list of winter gear and where it can be dropped off. Providers also have an online shopping listt to make donating more convenient. Items ordered online can be delivered directly to JOIN, 1435 NE 81st Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR, 97213

The following items are needed:

● Thick socks

● Waterproof/resistant gloves or mittens (preferably dark colors/black)

● Waterproof/resistant winter coats (men’s and women’s sizes)

● Sleeping bags and warm blankets

● Waterproof/resistant hats (preferably dark colors/black)

● Knit hats (preferably dark colors/black)

● Tarps (preferably brown, dark colors)

● Hand warmers

● Rain ponchos

Please keep in mind: Some items, like home-cooked food, present health challenges around illnesses, allergies and germs -- even from the most well-meaning donors -- and can’t be accepted. In addition, volunteers and others working at shelter sites won’t have the capacity to track, clean and return food containers, flatware and other items left at shelter sites.

How to help neighbors in distress

If you see someone outside unsheltered whose life appears to be in danger or is in an apparent medical crisis, call 911. Otherwise, if you see someone about whom you are concerned, such as not being dressed for the weather conditions, call police non-emergency (503) 823-3333 and request a welfare check for that person.

To assist someone in locating shelter and transportation to shelter, please call 211.

Multnomah County offers mental health crisis resources, at any hour, for anyone experiencing a crisis. Mental health clinicians can provide direct phone assistance to individuals experiencing a mental-health crisis including: escalated symptoms of agitation, anxiety, depression, psychosis, dangerous to self or others, substance use, etc. Call (503) 988-4888 or visit the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Intervention website for more information. 

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