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Homeless outreach will continue through cold weather as emergency shelters close in Multnomah County

If you or someone you know is looking for shelter or health and social services in Multnomah County, call 2-1-1.
Credit: KGW News

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County cold weather emergency shelters, which opened on Dec. 21, closed on Sunday, Jan. 2 but officials say anyone looking for social and health services or shelter should dial 2-1-1.

On Saturday night, four Multnomah County shelters hosted a total of 302 people, which is only about 62% of the total capacity the shelters could hold.

The Joint Office of Homeless Services, together with Multnomah County and the City of Portland, will continue to monitor conditions throughout the winter and open severe weather shelters when certain thresholds are met.

For updates and future severe weather shelter sites, please check back at multco.us/cold.

If someone is looking for shelter against the cold or any other reason, there are beds available and you can find where to go by calling 2-1-1.

Multnomah County asks that if you see someone you are concerned about who may not be dressed for the warm weather or are facing the element unprepared, you can call the non-emergency response line at 503-823-3333 and request a welfare check.

If someone outside is unsheltered and whose life appears to be in danger, call 9-1-1.

There was one reported hypothermia death during the recent cold temperatures on Christmas day. Henry Steele had been undergoing cancer treatment and suffered from symptoms of dementia. Stelle was hours, but his family believes he may have gotten confused after boarding the wrong bus which is why he may have been exposed to the elements.

RELATED: Portland man dies of hypothermia Christmas Day after leaving VA hospital

While hundreds of people used the Multnomah County shelters, volunteers distributed 5,479 sleeping bags, 5,939 blankets, 2,646 tents, 4,640 tarps, 3,930 ponchos, 7,277 hot hands, 5,698 gloves, 5,614 hats, 1,846 hoodies, 1,993 sweatpants and 9,808 pairs of socks.

“The community came together. The Joint Office of Homeless Services in collaboration with Multnomah County Department of Human Services, Multnomah County Emergency Management and Portland Bureau of Emergency Management alongside hundreds of our nonprofit partners and volunteers, came together to make this happen” said Celeste Duvall, unsheltered emergency program specialist with the Joint Office of Homeless Services. “We set up 7 shelters equitably throughout the County, with the capacity of 700 beds for people to come into, with the ability to expand. And we did it over two holidays.”

If you are interested in volunteering the next time severe weather shelters open their doors, you can check these resources from the Joint Office of Homeless Services:

Get Really Prepared: Disaster Resource Center Videos. At a minimum,, the joint office said volunteers should watch the Portland NET/TPI Intro to Warming Shelters video.

Duvall urged those who have housing, to have compassion for those who do not; because no one deserves to die because of the weather outside. It’s that compassion, borne from her own experience, that drives her.

“I’ve been there. I’ve been homeless. There isn’t anything the people we serve are going through that I haven't been through. Today I sit in my nice warm house and walk to the fridge anytime I want, and I have clean clothes and a nice soft bed. Knowing thousands of people out there don’t,” she said early Sunday morning as she prepared for a long day of work. “If I can help one person, to even give them hope that they can end their homelessness, it drives me every day to work my heart out.”