PORTLAND, Ore — All 81 rooms at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland will be used to serve as a homeless shelter during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials with the hotel and Multnomah County announced the partnership on Thursday. The agreement comes at a time when the county is looking for extra space to house homeless people, especially those who may have respiratory symptoms but have not tested positive or COVID-19, so social distancing guidelines can be followed and the spread of the virus can be limited.
“Hotel occupancy rates were plunging and we had an underutilized asset and the county had an oversized need,” said Nick Pearson, Jupiter Hotel’s general manager. “Working together seemed like a no-brainer. The community is our shareholders.”
The hotel, located at 800 E Burnside St., will work with the Joint Office of Homeless Services for the next several weeks. The rooms are reserved for people already accessing shelter services and not for walk-ins or drop-offs.
Many shelters have remained open during the pandemic but have limited or paused intakes to comply with social distancing guidelines. The county’s partnership with the hotel helps create more space for social distancing so shelters can more quickly resume taking people in.
“Slowing the spread of this virus has to be our highest priority, and I’m proud the Jupiter is standing with us,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.
The partnership with the Jupiter is the latest example of community buildings being used as temporary homeless shelters. Last week, the Oregon Convention Center transformed into a 130-bed homeless shelter. The East Portland Community Center is slated to open as soon as Friday as a women-only shelter.
“The county and its government partners worked tirelessly and quickly to convert public spaces into shelters for our most vulnerable community members. But we can’t do this work alone. This is what it looks like when a community comes together,” Kafoury said.
While the Jupiter Hotel will serve as a homeless shelter for the time-being, Jupiter NEXT, a separate building next door, will remain open and continue to function as a hotel.