From the archives: Joint Office will again open supply center to outreach teams, community groups to help share thousands of bottles of water during heatwave

July 28, 2021

Michael Phelps, outreach worker/case manager, hands out water along with other care items under the record-breaking heat in SE Portland. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare's Street Outreach Team also offers mental health and housing education.
As another heatwave hits the Pacific Northwest, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is ready to help Multnomah County neighbors without shelter stay cool and hydrated — by providing thousands of bottles of water and other supplies to paid outreach workers, community volunteers and mutual aid groups.

From Thursday, July 29, through Saturday, July 31, the Joint Office will reactivate the comprehensive, countywide outreach response that successfully distributed more than 66,000 bottles of water during June’s historic heat disaster. At the same time Multnomah County and other partners, including the City of Portland, will open cooling centers and additional cooling spaces during the hottest hours of the day.

For the most up-to-date information on cooling centers and available places to go with air conditioning, visit the County’s Help for When it's Hot page and a map of cool spaces.

Although this weekend’s heatwave isn’t forecast to be nearly as severe or long-lasting, afternoon temperatures could still reach triple-digits, posing a serious threat to community members living outside.

The Joint Office’s downtown outreach supply center at SW 5th and Washington will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day for pickups of water and cooling supplies to distribute. Community members who want to help hand out supplies can contact the Joint Office to make appointments. 

Loading up water for a volunteer on Friday, June 25, 2021, outside the JOHS supply center.
People coming to pick up water and cooling supplies don’t need to be part of a registered nonprofit to make an appointment. Those kinds of basic survival supplies are always available to a wide variety of organizations.

On Thursday and Friday, people interested in picking up supplies to distribute can contact Carol Bethard or Richard Gilliam at the Joint Office to make appointments. Email or call 503-310-7210.

On Saturday, people interested in picking up supplies to distribute can contact Kanoe Egleston at the Joint Office at or 503-758-6171.

During the last heatwave, more than 66,000 bottles of water moved from the Joint Office’s supply center to more than 60 outreach teams, community groups and mutual aid organizations, along with more than 20 individuals who also came to pick up and distribute supplies. 

Those groups ranged from agencies funded by the Joint Office, including JOIN, Cascadia Behavioral Health and the Urban League of Portland, to providers such as Blanchet House and groups like Ground Score Association, Trash for Peace, Our Streets PDX, Defense Fund PDX, Hygiene 4 All, PPOP and others.

Working with those organizations, the Joint Office mapped the County into zones to ensure full coverage of the community. Outreach workers and volunteers then took those supplies to places like Delta Park, downtown Portland, Sellwood-Moreland and Gresham, and all points between and some beyond. 

That work is part of the Joint Office’s ongoing mission to provide street outreach supplies — and support outreach providers and community groups across the county — all year long and especially during emergencies.