September 13, 2020

Smoke hovers over tents in Old Town in September 2020.
PORTLAND (Sept. 13, 2020) — As toxic, smoky air lingers across the region, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is working with partners to support additional shelter capacity and respite space for a fourth day while continuing to help distribute KN95 masks, water and other supplies to people living outside.

Just like during cold and severe weather, anyone seeking 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. 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 Sunday, Sept. 13, shelter will continue to be offered at the Convention Center and the Charles Jordan Community Center. If someone needs a place to go even for a few hours, without staying overnight, space is available at Charles Jordan Community Center. Transportation will be available if needed. Call 211.

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.

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.

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. More than two dozen outreach providers, volunteer groups and mutual aid groups came together over the past few days to help share masks and water. That work is very much appreciated.

How you can help: Donate supplies

As of Sunday, Sept. 13, for those who’d like to support this work, supplies are 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

  • Depends/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.