Colder weather is here again, and though many of us are fortunate to have a safe warm place to call home, there are neighbors in our community who need our help during these extreme conditions. For those living without shelter, even just a single day or night of severe winter weather – including freezing temperatures, high winds, snow, sleet and ice – is a life-threatening event that requires an emergency response. The danger grows as conditions linger.
That’s why, no matter how many days of severe weather we might see, the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) and emergency management officials in Multnomah County and Portland all share a rapid-response plan that can scale up to provide the needed response. The plan is centered on a basic commitment: No one who needs a warm, dry place will be turned away.
How To Help
Here are a few basic ways you can help your neighbors who might be in need.
If you see someone outside without shelter, and it appears they might need assistance, please call the non-emergency police line.
Non-emergency Police Line - (503) 823 – 3333
If someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call Multnomah County’s 24-hour crisis line.
Multnomah County 24-hour Crisis Line - (503) 988 – 4888
On our coldest night, when we’ve declared a severe weather emergency, please call 211 if you see someone who needs shelter. During severe weather, no one seeking a shelter bed will be turned away.
Another way you can help is by donating life-saving winter gear early in the season, so outreach teams will have them on hand when conditions turn especially cold.
Go to 211info.org/donations to find lists of providers and their needs for winter gear – hats, coats, gloves, sleeping bags and socks, etc. Many providers include online shopping links along with their lists, making donating more convenient than ever. You can donate right from your phone or computer in just a few minutes.
You can also go to tprojects.org and sign up with Transition Projects to train as a warming shelter volunteer. Transition Projects is one of the community partners paid through the Joint Office of Homeless Services to staff severe weather shelters on the coldest or snowiest nights of the year.
Remember, we can make a difference when we work together to keep our neighbors safe, warm and dry this winter.