Portland Rescue Mission is opening up the third floor of its Burnside Shelter today.
Some of the men who were previously staying in the first floor short-term emergency shelter are moving upstairs to a newly renovated expansion, which provides longer-term housing.
The men moving to the third floor are part of Link, a work-exchange program. Men involved in the program have a place to stay at night, meals, social service agency referrals and an address where they can receive mail. In exchange, the men work with mission staff to help operate the shelter.
Alexa Mason, a Portland Rescue Mission spokesperson, says the mission's Link program is for men who are actively looking for employment and/or housing. Mason says many of the men are on a wait list for permanent housing when they enter the program, which can take three to six months until they are able to move in. The Link program allows them to stay at the Burnside shelter in exchange for work in the meantime.
"All of the men would be homeless if they were not in the program," Mason says.
The opening of the third floor also opens up 34 more emergency beds starting tonight. The emergency shelter now has 58 beds in total.
The Link program began in January of 2012 as a response to increased homelessness in Portland, as evidenced by Multnomah County's unsheltered population count, Mason says. Since its inception, it has had 200 participants. Mason says half of those participants have transitioned into housing and employment.