When it gets cold enough, the Joint Office of Homeless Services (operated by the City of Portland and Multnomah County) declares a severe weather advisory and brings additional shelter capacity online to ensure that everyone who wants to be inside can be inside for the night.
We are sharing here information from the Joint Office:
When the Joint Office declares a severe weather advisory, 211 becomes available 24 hours and will coordinate transportation to available shelters for anyone in need. A cold weather advisory also triggers additional outreach capacity, giving outreach workers more flexibility to obtain and distribute life-saving gear.
Overall, the Joint Office funds 1,365 year-round shelter beds and an additional 255 seasonal beds that are all open every night from late fall through early spring — no matter the forecast outside. In addition to those more than 1,600 beds, the Joint Office and Transition Projects stand ready to open severe weather beds as forecasts dictate.
Ways You Can Help:
Please donate winter gear
Service providers and the Joint Office are continuing their call for community donations of life-saving winter gear. Donations had been lower than usual this season, thanks to what had been a long run of mild conditions. Many people have since stepped up with donations as conditions took a turn, but more is always needed. Night after night, outreach workers have been handing out gear to keep people warm and safe as soon as it's come in.
Items especially important to donate items including waterproof hats, gloves, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags and coats.
Please visit 211info.org/donations to see a specific list of winter gear and where it can be dropped off.
Human Solutions can accept donations at 12350 SE Powell Blvd., Monday to Friday 8 AM to 5 PM.
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.
When it's cold outside
If someone outside is unsheltered and you are concerned they could be in danger due to cold weather, call 9-1-1 and request a welfare check. To help someone locate shelter and for transportation to shelter, please call 2-1-1 or go online at 211info.org.
A lone tent on a snowy day in Portland
People seeking to get warm on winter days when warming shelters are not open are welcome in government buildings that are open to the public, including, for example, libraries and community centers. Library hours are listed on Multnomah County Library’s website. City community center information is listed here.
Severe Weather Warming Centers
A Home for Everyone a collaboration between Multnomah County and the City of Portland. The partners, supported by the Joint Office of Homeless Services, operate shelters year-round for people experiencing homeless and add hundreds of beds open all winter. Beyond those year-round and seasonal beds, partners open additional warming shelters when severe weather hits to keep hundreds of people safe, generally 10 to 20 times each year.
Joint Office staff monitor weather conditions and open emergency warming centers as needed. Warming shelters may open when:
- Temperatures are forecast at 25 degrees or below
- Forecasters predict an inch or more of snow
- Overnight temperatures drop below 32 degrees, with an inch of driving rain.
- Other conditions occur as needed, including severe wind chills or extreme temperature fluctuations
Transition Projects will open one or more shelters based on need and location. This year those sites are Bud Clark Commons, Imago Dei and the Sunrise Center. These are low-barrier shelters with access for bikes, carts and pets. Additional shelters would open if conditions worsen. 211info moves to 24-hour operations and shares information about shelter options and donation needs, and coordinates transportation to shelter during severe weather events.
In addition to the severe-weather beds that open only when certain weather thresholds are met, the Joint Office of Homeless Services also opens 250 to 300 beds of seasonal shelter beds every fall, winter and spring. These beds are open night after night, no matter the forecast, from November/December through April. To make this work possible, the Joint Office works closely with business and faith leaders who donate space, as well as experienced shelter operators, including Transition Projects, Portland Homeless Family Solutions and Do Good Multnomah.
Just like with year-round shelters, winter shelters are available only through reservations. Anyone interested in accessing shelter should contact 211.
In 2018-19, the following winter shelters are open:
Walnut Park Shelter, 5329 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.; 80 beds, operated by Transition Projects
Winter Family Shelter, 1150 NW 17th Ave; 75 beds, operated by Portland Homeless Family Solutions
North Portland Emergency Warming Center, 4775 N Lombard St.; 50 beds, operated by Portsmouth Union Church and Do Good Multnomah
Rose City Park United Methodist Winter Shelter, 5830 NE Alameda; 40 beds (30 for non-veterans), operated by Do Good Multnomah, alongside their year-round shelter at the church.
Additional beds are also available in the youth homeless shelter system.
Cold Weather Alerts
Even when severe weather thresholds aren't met — but when temperatures are forecast at 32 degrees or below — the Joint Office will issue a "cold weather alert."
No severe weather beds will open during a cold weather alert. But providers will conduct additional and focused outreach and have the ability to quickly obtain and distribute cold weather gear. And 2-1-1 Info will move into 24-operations, sharing information on resources and helping people connect to available shelter.