Multnomah County warming shelters were 73% full on the night of Dec. 25, officials say, as Portland entered a cold snap that is expected to last much of the week.
“As of 6:45 am today, we had 162 guests in the five emergency shelters,” says county spokeswoman Kate Yeiser. The Dec. 25 capacity was 221 people.
Anticipating more need as temperatures remain below freezing, county officials are opening a sixth shelter tonight at 120 SE Market St.—the first in Portland’s inner eastside. A seventh shelter will open at the Oregon Convention Center as soon as Tuesday, Dec. 28, depending on how fast existing shelters fill up.
Portland’s snowfall has so far been light, and the latest forecast suggests the city will avoid the most dire predictions of bitter cold. But the National Weather Service is forecasting that the temperature will dip below freezing every night until the new year begins Saturday.
Local officials, chastened by 59 extreme-weather deaths in June, declared states of emergency last week and prioritized getting people living on the streets into warm spaces. Regional transit authority TriMet has offered free bus and train rides to and from shelters.
With more shelters opening, the county needs more volunteers—especially at the Convention Center, Market Street and the Mount Scott Community Center. (A full shelter list and information on how to volunteer is here.)
“We’ve opened six 24-hour shelters in three days,” says county spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti. “They need to be staffed 24/7. The people in charge are experts, but the public can apply to be general staff with a tiny bit of online training.”
She asks that volunteers watch two videos before arriving: one linked here and the other shown below.
Correction: This story incorrectly stated that Oregon Convention Center would open as a shelter Dec. 27. It will open no sooner than Dec. 28.