September 12, 2020

PORTLAND (Sept. 12, 2020) — As toxic, smoky air lingers across the region, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is working with partners to support additional shelter capacity for a third day while continuing to 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 where space is available and to arrange transportation. Because of high demand, there may be a wait time for callers.

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.

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.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, shelter will continue to be offered at the Convention Center and the Charles Jordan Community Center.

The Mt. Scott Community Center will NOT serve as an active shelter on Saturday, Sept. 12. It will shift to standby status, ready and prepped, and will open again only if capacity fills at the other two sites. 

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 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. 

###