100 beds, open 24 hours a day, will provide a safer space for community members experiencing homelessness through the cold and rainy months ahead
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced today that the North Portland Charles Jordan Community Center, which was reopened as a temporary shelter due to dangerous air conditions from wildfire smoke, will now remain open as a 24-hour shelter through March 2021.
This move is an early step toward plans to add additional spaces for people experiencing homelessness, now and through the winter.
“We know that permanent housing is always the best option but the extraordinary public health threats facing our community have hit people experiencing homelessness especially hard,” said Mayor Wheeler. “The compounding risks of a pandemic, hazardous air, and an increase in violence in our streets have made it more dangerous than ever to be unhoused. These 100 beds, open 24 hours a day, will provide a safer space for community members experiencing homelessness through the cold and rainy months ahead while we continue to press for more housing solutions.”
For much of this year, the Charles Jordan Community Center, operated by Portland Parks & Recreation, has served as part of our emergency response to the pandemic, providing temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness. From March through July, it provided a place to spread out the City/County Joint Office of Homeless Services’ (Joint Office) 1,400-bed shelter system, maintaining capacity while following COVID-19 public health guidance.
Then, last week, it reopened as emergency shelter to protect community members who are unhoused and seeking refuge from dangerous air conditions due to wildfire smoke. With the wildfire smoke expected to improve, the emergency shelter would have closed after today.
Now, with Charles Jordan Community Center set to stay open through March 2021, 100 new beds will help people, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also during the cold and wet winter season to come.
Mayor Wheeler last month directed the Joint Office and the Portland Housing Bureau to work together to create several hundred new shelter beds ahead of the winter. The shelter at Charles Jordan Community Center represents meaningful progress toward the Mayor’s goal.
“In good times and bad, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is here for our community,” said Director Adena Long of Portland Parks & Recreation. “I’m proud PP&R has played such a critical role in our City’s response to Portland’s intersecting pandemic, wildfire and homelessness emergencies. COVID-19’s impact on PP&R has closed our cherished recreation centers and pools to the public, so we’re pleased that we could pivot the Charles Jordan Community Center’s focus to continue serving our community.”
Do Good Multnomah, a shelter and housing services provider under contract with the Joint Office, will continue managing the Charles Jordan site. Guests at the shelter 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.
Since February, the City, Multnomah County and the Joint Office have taken a series of steps to help people experiencing homelessness, either in shelters or outside, find safer outcomes in the face of COVID-19.
The City has added dozens of portable restrooms and handwashing stations throughout the community, while working with the Joint Office to open three new outdoor shelters in the spring. The Joint Office preserved hundreds of shelter beds, despite the need for physical distancing, first by spreading out shelter beds to new buildings, and then by moving vulnerable people to motels.
The Joint Office also is working with community partners and volunteers by supplying them with life-saving gear to share with people in camps, including more than 110,000 masks and hundreds of gallons of sanitizer and water.
"Homelessness, housing instability and systemic racism have long been emergencies in our community, hurting thousands of people. And now COVID-19 is here, compounding each of those crises even as it adds threats of its own," said Kanoelehua Egleston, program manager for the Joint Office. "We've fought hard to protect our vulnerable neighbors during this pandemic — without sacrificing our commitment to the housing, shelter and outreach services that ultimately will end someone's homelessness."
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 and while transforming it to fund 24-hour spaces that keep permanent housing at their core.