Warming Shelters and Homelessness

Updated 12:30 p.m., Sunday, March 10

The Joint Office of Homeless Services has reviewed the weather forecast, and while “severe weather” thresholds are not quite met, forecast overnight temperatures will be at or below 32 degrees for at least four hours throughout Multnomah County. As a result, a cold weather advisory in effect the night of Sunday, March 10.

Severe weather shelter beds aren't set to open. But the Joint Office has asked contracted shelter providers, because of the cold weather advisory, to activate limited overflow capacity at all currently open shelters. Additional community-run shelters may open, as well. To access overflow space, and learn what beds are available and where, please call 211 first.

211 will also be available 24 hours, under the cold weather advisory, and will coordinate transportation to available shelters to anyone in need.  

A cold weather advisory also triggers additional outreach capacity, giving outreach workers more flexibility to obtain and distribute life-saving gear. 

Overall, the Joint Office funds 1,365 year-round shelter beds and an additional 255 seasonal beds that are all open every night from late fall through early spring — no matter the forecast outside. In addition to those more than 1,600 beds, the Joint Office and Transition Projects stand ready to open at least 325 severe weather beds on any given night of severe weather as forecasts dictate. During severe weather, the Joint Office will also work with Portland and Multnomah County to open as many additional beds as needed if that initial severe weather capacity is filled.

The Joint Office will continue to monitor forecasts and escalate the response to weather conditions as needed.

Please donate winter gear

Service providers and the Joint Office are continuing their call for community donations of life-saving winter gear. Donations had been lower than usual this season, thanks to what had been a long run of mild conditions. Many people have since stepped up with donations as conditions took a turn, but more is always needed. Night after night, outreach workers have been handing out gear to keep people warm and safe as soon as it's come in. 

Items especially important to donate items including waterproof hats, gloves, blankets, tarps, sleeping bags and coats.

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, which means anyone can donate over the weekend, even if snow and ice have made roads difficult to traverse. Items ordered online can be delivered directly to JOIN, 1435 NE 81st Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR, 97213. JOIN is also taking donations in person at that address.

And Transition Projects, at 665 NW Hoyt in downtown Portland, is also accepting in-person donations 24/7 and will bundle and share those items with other providers as needed.

The following items are needed:

● Thick socks

● Waterproof/resistant gloves or mittens (preferably dark colors/black)

● Waterproof/resistant winter coats (men’s and women’s 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

We appreciate everyone's willingness to help, however they can. But please keep in mind: Some items, like home-cooked food, present health challenges around illnesses, allergies and germs — even from the most well-meaning donors — and can’t be accepted. In addition, volunteers and others working at shelter sites won’t have the capacity to track, clean and return food containers, flatware and other items left at shelter sites.

How to help neighbors in distress

If you see someone outside unsheltered whose life appears to be in danger or is in an apparent medical crisis, call 911. Otherwise, if you see someone about whom you are concerned, such as not being dressed for the weather conditions, call police non-emergency (503) 823-3333 and request a welfare check for that person.

To help someone find shelter and arrange transportation to shelter, please call 211.

Multnomah County offers mental health crisis resources, at any hour, for anyone experiencing a crisis. Mental health clinicians can provide direct phone assistance to individuals experiencing a mental-health crisis including: escalated symptoms of agitation, anxiety, depression, psychosis, dangerous to self or others, substance use, etc. Call (503) 988-4888 or visit the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Intervention website for more information.

When it's cold outside

If someone outside is unsheltered and you are concerned they could be in danger due to cold weather, call 9-1-1 and request a welfare check. To help someone locate shelter and for transportation to shelter, please call 2-1-1 or go online at 211info.org

People seeking to get warm on winter days when warming shelters are not open are welcome in government buildings that are open to the public, including, for example, libraries and community centers. Library hours are listed on Multnomah County Library’s website. City community center information is listed here.

Severe Weather Warming Centers

A Home for Everyone a collaboration between Multnomah County and the City of Portland. The partners, supported by the Joint Office of Homeless Services, operate shelters year-round for people experiencing homeless and add hundreds of beds open all winter. Beyond those year-round and seasonal beds, partners open additional warming shelters when severe weather hits to keep hundreds of people safe, generally 10 to 20 times each year.

Joint Office staff monitor weather conditions and open emergency warming centers as needed. Warming shelters may open when:

  • Temperatures are forecast at 25 degrees or below

  • Forecasters predict an inch or more of snow  

  • Overnight temperatures drop below 32 degrees, with an inch of driving rain.

  • Other conditions occur as needed, including severe wind chills or extreme temperature fluctuations

Transition Projects will open one or more shelters based on need and location. This year those sites are Bud Clark Commons, Imago Dei and the Sunrise Center. These are low-barrier shelters with access for bikes, carts and pets. Additional shelters would open if conditions worsen. 211info moves to 24-hour operations and shares information about shelter options and donation needs, and coordinates transportation to shelter during severe weather events. 

Seasonal Shelters

In addition to the severe-weather beds that open only when certain weather thresholds are met, the Joint Office of Homeless Services also opens 250 to 300 beds of seasonal shelter beds every fall, winter and spring. These beds are open night after night, no matter the forecast, from November/December through April. To make this work possible, the Joint Office works closely with business and faith leaders who donate space, as well as experienced shelter operators, including Transition Projects, Portland Homeless Family Solutions and Do Good Multnomah.

Just like with year-round shelters, winter shelters are available only through reservations. Anyone interested in accessing shelter should contact 211.

In 2018-19, the following winter shelters are open:

  • Walnut Park Shelter, 5329 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.; 80 beds, operated by Transition Projects 
  • Winter Family Shelter, 1150 NW 17th Ave; 75 beds, operated by Portland Homeless Family Solutions
  • North Portland Emergency Warming Center, 4775 N Lombard St.; 50 beds, operated by Portsmouth Union Church and Do Good Multnomah
  • Rose City Park United Methodist Winter Shelter, 5830 NE Alameda; 40 beds (30 for non-veterans), operated by Do Good Multnomah, alongside their year-round shelter at the church.
  • Additional beds are also available in the youth homeless shelter system.

Cold Weather Alerts

Even when severe weather thresholds aren't met — but when temperatures are forecast at 32 degrees or below — the Joint Office will issue a "cold weather alert."

No severe weather beds will open during a cold weather alert. But providers will conduct additional and focused outreach and have the ability to quickly obtain and distribute cold weather gear. And 2-1-1 Info will move into 24-operations, sharing information on resources and helping people connect to available shelter.