Severe weather shelters open in Portland; outreach workers offer help for the homeless

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 11:02 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Severe weather shelters are open overnight Tuesday for anyone who needs a warm place to go.

Outreach workers are also going out to help keep people safe.

Five days a week the Union Gospel Mission Search and Rescue Team drives around to people experiencing homelessness to help them with both immediate and sometimes longer-term needs.

“It’s been a blessing to get to do this with them and just go out day by day, give them testimony of my past, let them know there is hope, there’s opportunities for them,” Able Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez started doing this work after his own experience.

“I’ve been lost, confused. I’ve been homeless, I’ve been there, drugs, mental illness too, I’ve been there but there’s hope,” he said.

He knows how crucial basic supplies can be when temperatures dip below freezing.

The outreach workers also connect people to shelters.

“We’ve got blankets, gloves, handwarmers, sack lunches, vouchers for certain areas,” he said. “We can tell them, ‘hey man there’s open shelter here, there’s a warming shelter here,’ they don’t know about it. They’re like ok we’re gonna go there for the night because they’re cold.”

The Joint Office of Homeless Services has five severe weather shelters open Tuesday night to Wednesday morning with capacity for 360 people. That’s on top of year-round and seasonal beds.

“It’s kinda sad when they’re out there right now in the cold and they don’t want that help. They’re kinda scared to ask for help, you just gotta break that boundary with them and eventually they just open up, they’re like yeah we need that,” Gonzalez said.

The severe weather shelters are:

Salvation Army: 5325 N. Williams Ave., Portland

Sunrise Center: 18901 E. Burnside St., Portland

Mt. Scott Community Center: 5530 S.E. 72nd Ave., Portland

East Portland Community Center: 740 S.E. 106th Ave., Portland

Market Street: 120 S.E. Market St., Portland

211 is also connecting people to shelters and rides.

And TriMet won’t turn anyone away who’s going to or from a shelter.

The Union Gospel Mission is still in need of blankets. You can drop those off in person or order on their Amazon wish list.