September 14, 2020

Smoke hovers over tents in Old Town in September 2020.
PORTLAND (Sept. 14, 2020) — With toxic, smoky air now expected to linger into this week, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is working with partners to support additional shelter capacity and respite space for a fifth day.

The Joint Office also remains grateful for the nearly 30 contracted partner agencies, volunteer groups and mutual-aid groups who have rallied over this time to help refer people into shelter and distribute the office’s supply of KN95 masks, water and other gear to people living outside.

And the Joint Office extends deep gratitude to neighbors and community members who’ve reached out asking how they can help and coming through with donations of gear and supplies that will ensure staff and volunteers can help people through this crisis and also through the many months our COVID-19 crisis is expected to continue.

Shelter options: Charles Jordan Community Center for day and overnight needs; OCC also open

Just like during cold and severe weather, anyone seeking shelter should call 211 first to see where space is available and to arrange transportation. You can call 211 on behalf of someone seeking shelter if they’re not able to call on their own, to arrange a ride.

Shelter will be offered 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.

On Monday, Sept. 14, shelter will continue to be offered at the Charles Jordan Community Center. If someone needs a place to escape the smoke even for a few hours, without staying overnight, they can also do that at Charles Jordan and call 211 to arrange transportation. Shelter is also available at the Oregon Convention Center.

Additional shelter was first offered Thursday, Sept. 10, at the 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.

Charles Jordan opened starting Friday, Sept. 11. A third also site opened that night but was shifted to standby status over the weekend, prepped and ready, in case it’s needed.

Thank you for support from outreach partners and community volunteers

At the same time, the Joint Office will continue 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 obtained an additional 40,000 masks, adding to a stockpile in hand because of COVID-19.

The Joint Office received an overwhelming amount of support last week and over the weekend with help sharing not only thousands of masks, but also water, sanitizer, and gear such as sleeping bags and blankets. A total of 27 outreach providers, volunteer groups and mutual aid groups came together to help share masks and water. That work is very much appreciated.

How you can help: Donate supplies

The Joint Office also wants to deeply thank community members and neighbors and others who heeded a call for donated supplies starting over the weekend. For those who’d like to continue supporting this work, supplies are still needed more than volunteers at this point.

The following supplies will help support smoke relief work as well as the COVID-19 response work that will continue once the air is clear:

  • Blankets

  • Tarps

  • Water and Gatorade/sports drinks (gallons and 20 oz. bottles)

  • Sleeping bags

  • Tents

  • Hygiene products

  • Socks

  • Hydration/electrolyte packets

  • Baby wipes

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Adult incontinence products

  • First aid kits

  • Cloth masks

To learn more about how to donate these supplies, 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. 

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