The Night After Portland's Record Snowstorm, Local Shelters Housed 45 Percent More People Than Their Usual Capacity

That's almost 600 extra people.

Portland snowstorm on Jan. 11, 2017. (Joe Riedl)

The record-breaking snow levels and unusually cold January temperatures—with lows down to 17 degrees—have increased the effects of Portland's housing crisis on the homeless population.

Last weekend, a woman died of hypothermia after being evicted from her apartment in October. She is one of four people to have died on Portland's streets due to hypothermia in the first weeks of 2017 alone.

The number of people seeking emergency cold-weather shelter has also reached record highs.

On Wednesday night, the number of people seeking shelter for the night reached a new high, when local homeless shelters housed approximately 572 more people past their typical capacity.

That's about 45 percent more than the usual 1,260 people whom Multnomah County shelters can house per night.

Yet city and county officials say they've managed to not turn anyone away from shelter during the last two nights.

"I have never seen anything like this before: both the extent of the this winter storm and the unprecedented efforts from our community to help people in need," says Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. "It's been a real struggle. It's not been easy."

Due to the increased number of people needing a place to sleep, other organizations have had to step up to take in more people, which includes additional volunteers and staff. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office has transported more than 100 people to and from shelters, delivered supplies and has even been doing laundry for the shelters.

Portland snowstorm on Jan. 11, 2017. (Joe Riedl)

Because of shelter overcrowding, the city of Portland is also coordinating transportation. If one shelter is full, someone can be taken to another shelter, through the Joint City/ County EOC Emergency Operations Center.

Tonight, the city and county made 100 more beds available than on Wednesday night. Kafoury says that if more people show up for beds, they will continue to find a place for them.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that no exposure deaths have been reported during the Tuesday snowstorm and its aftermath.

If you'd like to help, the Bud Clark CommonsPortland Rescue Mission and Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter (SAFES) are in urgent need of donations.

"We still really need supplies. I was at the Portland Building today and the donation box was empty and a gentleman came in and asked if we had boots or gloves," Kafoury says. "He showed me his hands that were cracked from the cold and the bins were empty, and we went him to [Transitions Projects]. We still need warm clothes, boots, hats, especially for men."

Portland snowstorm on Jan. 11, 2017. (Joe Riedl)

You can also donate online through The Union Gospel Mission's Amazon Wishlist, which lists items from $9-32.

You can also volunteer. Here's a list of all the shelters that need volunteers and the current available shifts.

Here's a map of the city's shelters.

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