PORTLAND — Thanks to close work among a business owner, a local faith community, an experienced nonprofit, and the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services, a seasonal shelter for 75 children and their parents is set to open in Northwest Portland on Monday, Dec. 3.
The shelter, operated by Portland Homeless Family Solutions, will provide nighttime accommodations from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily through April 30, 2019. The Joint Office is funding the shelter as part of its annual commitment to add hundreds of seasonal beds when the weather turns cold and damp.
The family shelter will be housed in a building donated by developer Tom Cody of project^ at 1150 NW 17th Ave. The location is just a few blocks from where it was hosted last year, at Congregation Beth Israel. Congregation Beth Israel will remain a lead partner in supporting the shelter through volunteering and community connections.
This partnership comes just as weather forecasts call for significantly colder overnight temperatures for the first time this season. Right now, there are more than 100 families on the City and County’s wait list for shelter who are literally sleeping outside or in their cars.
“These are kids who don't have anywhere to do their homework, brush their teeth, or read bedtime stories,” said Brandi Tuck, executive director of Portland Homeless Family Solutions. “Thanks to this unique collaboration Portland Homeless Family Solutions is able to provide 75 kids and parents a place to sleep and get back on their feet this winter. We will work with families to help them move back into housing.”
Tom Cody, who has opened winter shelter space in other development projects, said, “I am optimistic that by working together, the business community and the public sector can continue to make meaningful progress in addressing homelessness,” Cody said. “With many contributing, outcomes can be immediate and impactful. I hope we can continue to build on these kinds of partnerships.”
How families can access the shelter
Families hoping to come to the shelter must first call 211, to learn if space is available, and then to schedule an intake appointment. Families sleeping outside with no other options will have priority. Families won’t be admitted without first scheduling an intake.
People staying at the shelter will also receive a hot dinner every evening and then breakfast in the morning. Other amenities include play spaces and programming for kids, along with an “awake room’’ so that people can have some options for their bedtime schedule.
Once enrolled, guests will be able to sleep at the shelter for as many days as they need. Families can also store their belongings at the shelter and keep any service animals with them. That means no one will need to line up outside at night to win a space, or carry around their personal items, as they go about their lives or access services during the day.
Many of the families at the shelter will be at work or school during the day. Portland Homeless Family Solutions also offers a day center at SW 13th Avenue and Salmon Street, in partnership with First Unitarian Church, where families can take showers, do laundry, and hang out. The provider will also help families in the shelter back into housing, and provide rent assistance and case management to help them stabilize.
"When you’re a parent, you do everything you can to keep your children safe and warm. That’s no different for the families whose only place to care for their kids is a car,” Chair Deborah Kafoury said. “No parent in our community should have to face this challenge alone, especially during the winter months. That’s why we should all be grateful when our business, nonprofit and faith leaders come together to provide a safe place for families to rest when temperatures drop.”
“It is our collective responsibility to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors. This should happen all year, but particularly when it’s cold outside,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “No one seeking a warm, safe place to sleep should be turned away. Thank you to our partners and outreach workers for making these additional shelter beds available for families and children. You are saving lives.”
Staff at Portland Homeless Family Solutions are also asking community members to volunteer at the shelter and provide donations. The items most needed are twin sheet sets, blankets, pillows, towels, toothbrushes and toothpaste, coats, diapers, and baby wipes.
Community members who volunteer can bring meals, host “kid time” activities or come help with shelter operations — like sorting donations and doing laundry. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer or email@example.com to learn about donations.
“We need help from the community to support these families who stay in our NW Portland shelter this winter,” Tuck said. “Please volunteer, donate items, and bring food.”
Don’t wait to donate winter gear
Providers are also renewing their call for donated winter gear. Because it’s early in the season, many neighbors sleeping without shelter have not yet assembled all the gear they’ll rely on this winter to stay warm.
Please visit 211info.org/donations to see a specific list of winter gear and where it can be dropped off. Providers also have an online shopping list to make donating more convenient. Items ordered online can be delivered directly to JOIN, 1435 NE 81st Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR, 97213.
The following items are needed:
● Footwear and thick socks
● Waterproof/resistant gloves or mittens (preferably dark colors/black)
● Waterproof/resistant winter coats (adult sizes)
● Sleeping bags and warm blankets
● Waterproof/resistant hats (preferably dark colors/black)
● Knit hats (preferably dark colors/black)
● Tarps (preferably brown, dark colors)
● Hand warmers
● Rain ponchos
For more information, contact: Denis Theriault, Joint Office of Homeless Services, 503-893-9430; Brandi Tuck, Portland Homeless Family Solutions, 503-719-2769.