Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler today announced a third new site for COVID-compliant emergency shelter this fall and winter that, together with two Portland Parks & Recreation community centers, will add 275 new beds to the community.
Starting in November, the former Greyhound station in Old Town will offer a projected 100 beds to Portlanders experiencing homelessness, with an emphasis on those currently unsheltered in the Old Town area. Transition Projects, which operates housing services in addition to more than 800 adult shelter beds across Multnomah County, will manage the shelter through a contract with the City/County Joint Office of Homeless Services. The shelter at the Greyhound site will be open through March 2021, and will prioritize people with disabilities, those over 55, and Veterans.
In August, Mayor Wheeler directed the Joint Office and the Portland Housing Bureau to work together to create several hundred new shelter beds ahead of the winter.
Mayor Wheeler previously announced that Southeast Portland’s Mt. Scott Community Center and North Portland’s Charles Jordan Community Center will serve as safe, indoor physical distancing shelters through the fall and winter.
Charles Jordan, with 100 beds managed by Do Good Multnomah, is hosting guests now. Mt. Scott, with 75 beds managed by Joint Office staff, will open in early November. All three sites, including the Greyhound site, will be open 24 hours and offer resources including housing navigation services, three meals a day, showers, and laundry.
“I’m very appreciative of the Joint Office, Multnomah County, and our non-profit partners for working together and with urgency to bring these 275 new beds online. And I’m grateful to Transition Projects, Do Good Multnomah, Portland Parks & Recreation, and others who stepped up to help us achieve this goal,” said Mayor Wheeler. “Because of their good work, hundreds of vulnerable community members will have a safe indoor space to sleep, store their belongings, and receive services as the pandemic continues through the winter months.”
Both Charles Jordan and Mt. Scott previously served as part of the Joint Office’s initial emergency response to the pandemic. To avoid having to close shelters or sacrifice any of its 1,400 year-round beds because of physical distancing, the Joint Office moved hundreds of beds to temporary sites, including Charles Jordan and Mt. Scott. Both community centers were open in the spring and summer, and closed only when their bed capacity moved to longer-term motels in accordance with public health guidance and the Joint Office’s evolving pandemic response.
“There’s never a good time to be out on the streets, but this winter is shaping up to be a particularly dangerous one,” according to Shaynna Hobson, Director of Shelter Services for Transition Projects. “We’re glad to be partnering with the City and County to ensure that 100 folks will have a warm, dry, safe place to sleep each night this winter.”
For over 50 years, Transition Projects has delivered life-saving and life-changing assistance to some of Portland’s most vulnerable residents. Whether by helping a homeless veteran and her family find housing, sheltering hundreds of people each night with nowhere else to turn, or opening new pathways to employment, Transition Projects represents an invaluable part of Portland’s social fabric. For more information, visit tprojects.org.
The former Greyhound Bus Station, located in Old Town, has been vacant for several years. The owners are seeking to sell the site, but agreed to enter into a short term lease for the main floor of the building and the large outdoor bus loading area. The 30,000 sq. ft. space lends itself well to shelter during the pandemic because it will allow a large number of people to sleep and gather while maintaining the necessary physical distance between guests.
Background: City/County COVID-19 Response for Portlanders Experiencing Homelessness
Since February, the City, Multnomah County and the Joint Office have been working 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 is also 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.