September 11, 2020

As toxic, smoky air lingers across the region, the Joint Office of Homeless Services will continue working with partners to support additional shelter capacity and help distribute thousands of newly obtained KN95 masks to people living outside.

Just like during cold and severe weather, anyone seeking shelter or helping someone obtain shelter should call 211 first to see if there’s space available and to arrange transportation. Because of high demand, there may be a wait time for callers. 

Additional shelter was first offered Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Oregon Convention Center, as part of a Wildfire Smoke Advisory. This additional capacity for people experiencing homelessness is separate from shelter space set up for Clackamas County evacuees, managed by the Red Cross, in another part of the convention center.

Starting tonight, Friday, Sept. 11, two more sites for people experiencing homelessness will be added: Charles Jordan Community Center and Mt. Scott Community Center.

Once open, each site will remain available 24 hours for the duration of this smoke event, and include amenities such as meals. All sites will comply with COVID-19 protocols, including distancing.

Again, it’s necessary for anyone who’s unsheltered and seeking respite from smoke to first call 211 to see what’s available and to ensure they can receive a ride.

At the same time, the Joint Office continues to work with outreach providers and volunteer groups to distribute thousands of KN95 masks throughout Multnomah County. 

Anticipating the high chance for smoke and unhealthy air, the Joint Office this week obtained an additional 40,000 masks, adding to a stockpile in hand because of COVID-19. Hundreds were distributed starting Thursday, Sept. 10, and outreach teams continued that work Friday while making plans to keep going over the weekend. 

Volunteer groups are invited to help pick up and distribute masks and other gear, which are stored at the Joint Office’s downtown outreach supply center.

The Joint Office is extending the site’s hours over the weekend. To learn what’s available and how to access the supply center, contact Celeste Duvall, outreach coordinator for the Joint Office, at celeste.duvall@multco.us or 971-940-5582.

As this crisis lingers, the Joint Office and its nonprofit service providers, along with its partners in the City of Portland and Multnomah County, will continue to assess shelter and outreach needs and adjust as necessary.

For the latest updates on the ongoing wildfire emergency and Multnomah County’s response, go to multco.us/fires2020.