Severe weather shelters open for first time this season on Sunday night, Feb. 3

The arrival of the season’s first severe cold snap — bringing frigid temperatures and wind chills, and threats of accumulating snow — means that severe weather shelters will open throughout Multnomah County on Sunday, Feb. 3.

Severe weather shelters do not require identification or any other documentation. No one seeking shelter during severe weather will be turned away.

Service providers and the Joint Office of Homeless Services are also calling for community donations of life-saving winter gear. Because this season has been so mild, service providers say they haven’t been receiving their usual amount of donated supplies, which help outreach workers keep people warm and dry night after night.

Items especially important to donate items including waterproof hats, gloves, blankets, tarps 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). Bud Clark Commons and Imago Dei will be open to adults, couples and families and their pets from 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, to 6:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4. Sunrise Center will be open from 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, to 6:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4.

Families in Portland seeking shelter are encouraged to call 211, or they can present at any severe shelter to be referred to an appropriate family shelter option. No family will be turned away.

Go to 211info.org or call 211info 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 under the Joint Office’s severe weather protocols. If these shelters fill to capacity, additional shelter capacity will be opened in partnership with Multnomah County Emergency Management.

The Joint Office of Homeless Services will continue to monitor weather conditions and the City of Portland and Multnomah County will 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 publicly funded beds open year-round. The beds that open in severe weather 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 list 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

We appreciate everyone's willingness to help, however they can. But 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 help someone find shelter and arrange 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.  

CONTACT: Communications Coordinator Denis Theriault, Multnomah County communications, denis.theriault@multco.us.