The Joint Office of Homeless Services is expected to open two homeless shelters tomorrow—in the Oregon Convention Center and the Charles Jordan Community Center, two publicly owned properties.

The plan is part of an effort to ensure that people staying in homeless shelters keep adequate distance from one another during the COVID-19 outbreak. And it is not expected to increase the overall number of people in shelters.

"I knew I'd be making some tough asks to get these shelter spaces open so quickly," says Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. "I knew we had to think big. But I also knew this community would be ready to stand up. This is the kind of partnership, the kind of quick solutions that this crisis demands."

The Oregon Convention Center has not held an event since March 12, when the governor restricted gatherings to 250 people, according to the regional government Metro. (Gov. Kate Brown has since lowered the limit on gatherings to 25 people.) The convention center is a Metro venue.

"Metro has been working hard to make sure our region's homeless population has access to the services they need," says Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. "With the resources we have, this was a common-sense arrangement."

Kafoury said earlier this week that she had the authority to seize private property for shelters under the emergency resolution, but these first two buildings are publicly owned.