Mayor Wheeler Announces Portland Parks & Recreation’s Mt. Scott Community Center to Serve as Safe, Indoor Shelter Space for Community Members Experiencing Homelessness Through the Winter

Press Release
Community center will offer 75 beds, open 24 hours a day, to people experiencing homelessness this winter

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler today announced more progress toward his commitment  to deliver hundreds of new COVID-19 shelter beds this  fall and winter.

Beginning the first week in November, Southeast Portland’s Mt. Scott Community Center will offer 75 spaces to Portlanders experiencing homeless through March 2021.

In August, Mayor Wheeler directed the City/County Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) and the Portland Housing Bureau to work together to create several hundred new shelter beds ahead of the winter.

Mt. Scott Community Center will now become the second Portland Parks & Recreation space to open since that directive. On Sept. 17, Mayor Wheeler announced that North Portland’s Charles Jordan Community Center would open and provide 100 safe beds through the winter.

Together, the two Community Centers will offer 24-hour shelter for 175 people who would otherwise be living outside. At both sites, people will have a place to sleep and store their belongings. They’ll also have access to three meals a day, showers, laundry and housing navigation services. Mt. Scott will be managed directly by Joint Office staff. Do Good Multnomah, a shelter and housing services nonprofit, is managing Charles Jordan through a contract with the Joint Office.

“The Joint Office worked hard to secure more 24-hour shelter for people in need. Our most vulnerable community members deserve safe, indoor places to be this winter,” Mayor Wheeler said. “I am grateful to the Joint Office, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Portland Housing Bureau for working together to make this space available. While we’re making progress toward long-term solutions, winter is on the way, and our community centers are working overtime now to keep people off the street and out of the weather.”

Like the Charles Jordan Community Center, the Mt. Scott Community Center served as part of the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ emergency response to the pandemic, providing space for dozens of beds that had to be shifted from other shelters because of physical distancing. Mt. Scott was open from April through July, and closed when those beds were moved to motels in accordance with public health guidance.

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is here for our community. PP&R continues to play a critical role in our City’s response to the crises we’re all facing,” said Adena Long, Director of Portland Parks & Recreation. “COVID-19’s impact on PP&R has forced the closure of our cherished recreation centers and pools to the public. We have pivoted quickly with our partners to ensure these public buildings continue serving our community.”

Background: City/County COVID-19 Response for Portlanders Experiencing Homelessness

Since February, the City, Multnomah County and the Joint Office took steps to help people experiencing homelessness stay safe in the face of COVID-19 whether they were in shelters or living outside.

The City opened public restrooms and added dozens of portable restrooms and handwashing stations throughout the community. The City also partnered with the Joint Office to open three new outdoor shelters in the spring. The Joint Office and Multnomah County Emergency Management maintained access to hundreds of shelter beds, despite the need for physical distancing, first by spreading services to new buildings, and then by moving vulnerable people to motels.

The Joint Office also is supplying community partners and volunteers with life-saving gear to share with people in camps, including more than 110,000 masks and hundreds of gallons of sanitizer and water.

“Our best work relies on partnership – between city bureaus, with county departments, across government lines and, just as important, with the community. COVID-19 has only made that more clear,” said Patricia Rojas, the Joint Office’s deputy director. “And that spirit of partnership will serve our community long after this pandemic has gone, as we continue to do whatever it takes to house and shelter our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Overall, the Joint Office and its partner organizations help 12,000 people stay safe in a home every night instead of having to survive outside, double the number since 2015. The Joint Office also doubled the community’s government-funded shelter system, now with 1,400 year-round beds -- and transformed it to provide 24-hour spaces where people can come with their partners, pets and personal belongings, while also accessing health and housing services.