Additional shelter to open as temps drop, snow begins; volunteers needed at all shelters

December 26, 2021

With snow falling and temperatures dropping Sunday morning, Multnomah County, together with the City of Portland and the Joint Office of Homeless Services announced an additional severe weather shelter will open Sunday night. The new location, operated by Transition Projects, is located near OMSI in inner southeast Portland and will add capacity to the five sites that opened on Christmas Day. 

Visit multco.us/cold for up-to-date information on shelter locations and hours. 

Mt. Scott Community Center is one of six severe weather shelters to open during the December 2021 freeze.

Community members are strongly encouraged to volunteer for shifts at severe weather shelters. To view the virtual training and sign up for shifts, go to the Care for When it’s Cold Donations and Volunteering page.

“Severe weather shelters are truly life-saving. They keep our neighbors in the community safe and we need help from the community to keep them open and staffed,” said Malachi Hindle, a Multnomah County emergency operations analyst coordinating shelter volunteers. “We can’t do this alone and we need your help to keep sites open through a full week of extreme weather. Please sign up, if you can.

Vaccine teams also are offering COVID-19 vaccines to people staying at the shelters. First, second and booster doses will be offered:

Sunday, Dec. 26

  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Salvation Army
  • 2 to 4 p.m.  Portland Building

Monday, Dec. 27

  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the East Portland Community Center 
  • 2 to 4 p.m.  at Mt Scott Community Center

The National Weather Service issued an updated winter storm warning Sunday, calling for snow throughout the day Sunday and prolonged cold heading into next week. Breaks in weather are expected Monday afternoon, allowing the sun to thaw snow, which is expected to freeze on area roads. 

The weather service recommends delaying travel if possible. If you must travel, slow down, allow extra following distance, and make sure you have snow chains. Check the latest road conditions on tripcheck.

Cold weather gear and donations

The Joint Office of Homeless Services, through its Supply Distribution Center began distributing cold weather gear on Monday, Dec. 21. With the help of multiple, community based organizations, and mutual aid groups, teams have distributed  3,234 pairs of socks, 1,610 ponchos 1,020 mylar sleeping bags, 2,414 hot hands, 526 hoodies, 526 pants, 2,220 pairs of gloves, 2,220 hats, 822 15-degree sleeping bags, 2,890 tarps, 491 tents, and 2,292 blankets. These numbers do not include the thousands of pieces of the same type of severe weather gear that the JOHS contracted providers have distributed, that were previously staged at those contractor locations. 

Individuals or community groups who want to distribute supplies directly to people living outside in their neighborhood are encouraged to make an appointment with the Joint Office of Homeless Services supply center. 

The Center will be open by appointment Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Email celeste.duvall@multco.us with the subject line “Supplies.” 

“We have had an amazing response from the community signing up to help us distribute severe weather gear throughout the County,” said Celeste Duvall, unsheltered emergency program specialist with the Joint Office. “Our calendar is filled for today, but we are in this for the long haul, and will continue to need help throughout the week until we thaw out. We can’t reach every camp. So we’re asking people who have a car that can handle the snow, to lend us a hand.” 

To donate supplies to local nonprofits that are serving people experiencing homelessness, visit 211info.org for links to their Amazon wish lists.