For years, the Greyhound bus station in Old Town served as an informal gathering place for Portland's down and out. This winter, it will become a homeless shelter.

On Oct. 23, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that the former Greyhound station in Old Town will offer 100 beds to Portlanders experiencing homelessness, starting in November and staying open through March 2021. The 24-hour shelter will give priority to people currently unsheltered in the Old Town area, especially people with disabilities, those over 55, and veterans.

The former Greyhound station at 550 NW 6th Ave. has been vacant since September 2019. The owner, an Indianapolis-based real estate company, is seeking to sell the site but agreed to grant a short-term lease for the main floor of the building and the large outdoor bus loading area. The 30,000-square-foot space will allow a large number of people to sleep and gather while maintaining physical distance.

The overhaul of the bus station comes as Wheeler makes a push to provide more shelter beds—and remove tents from the sidewalks of Old Town, where irate business owners have complained of being abandoned by City Hall in the pandemic.

One hundred beds at Charles Jordan Community Center recently opened, and another shelter at Mt. Scott Community Center, with 75 beds, will open in early November.  That's a total of 275 beds, all 6 feet apart, planned for the winter months as COVID-19 proves resurgent in Multnomah County.

All three sites will be open 24 hours a day and offer resources that include housing navigation services, three meals a day, showers, and laundry services.

The Greyhound site will be managed by the nonprofit Transition Partners.

"There's never a good time to be out on the streets, but this winter is shaping up to be a particularly dangerous one," says Shaynna Hobson, director of shelter services for Transition Projects. "We're glad to be partnering with the City and County to ensure that 100 folks will have a warm, dry, safe place to sleep each night this winter."