Cold weather keeping Multnomah Co. shelters busy - KPTV - FOX 12

Cold weather keeping Multnomah Co. shelters busy

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Nearly 500 people who usually sleep on the streets in Multnomah County, stayed in warming shelters Thursday night. 

This week, homeless shelters filled up fast and saw a big spike. Now, many shelters are in desperate need for more donations.

What does it feel like to sleep outside, on a bare sidewalk in the bitter cold?

“They’ll tell me it hurts. It hurts physically and emotionally to be outside on a night like tonight,” said Mike Deckon, with Portland Rescue Mission.

Deckon said he asks that very question to some of the 300 homeless people who stay in the shelter every night. Sometimes, he said their answers are hard to hear.

“He was taking shelter in a portable honey bucket bathroom, anything he could do to get out of the snow, rain and wind because he was so cold,” said Deckon.

People outside the mission are trying to do the same, hoping for a warm bed, not just for comfort but for survival.

“We’re surviving the best we can, but its cold out here,” said Mercedez Benson. 

Benson said she’s been homeless in Portland since December.

“We sleep right next to each other, practically on top of each other to stay warm,” said Benson.

Hiding under blankets and wearing endless layers – she said she’ll wear anything to stay warm.

“Sometimes that means taking a thinner jacket and stuffing it with newspaper,” said Deckon.

Portland Rescue Mission, along with many shelters, said they’re in critical need for warm jackets, clothing, gloves and blankets.

“We have a critical need for hats, gloves, scarves coats and blankets,” said Deckon.

Hours ago a large bin was filled with gloves. By the end of the night, only two pairs were left.

“We’re running very, very low,” said Deckon.

“You’re lucky if you have a home, please donate to the homeless, we’re cold,” said Benson.

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