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Alex Zielinski

The Jupiter Hotel, the boutique hotel adjacent to the Doug Fir Lounge, is making its 81 rooms available for houseless Portlanders showing symptoms of COVID-19.

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"We are just so honored to be able to contribute to the health and safety of some of Portland's most vulnerable communities," said Nick Pearson, the hotel's general manager, at a Thursday press conference. "Once we started talking to the county about what their needs were, it was really a no-brainer for us to work together."

The hotel's rooms have been specifically reserved for people staying at a homeless shelter who are exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19. Multnomah County's Joint Office of Homeless Service (JOHS) is in charge of identifying people who meet the criteria for a room and moving them into the Southeast Burnside hotel. Each occupied room will cost the county a flat nightly rate of $79.

JOHS has opened two additional temporarily homeless shelters since COVID-19 arrived in Portland, in an effort to allow existing shelters to adhere to social distancing rules. As of Thursday morning, the two 120-bed shelters—one at the Charles Jordan Community Center and the other at the Oregon Convention Center—were at capacity.

JOHS has already moved 12 people into the Jupiter from different shelters. According to JOHS director Marc Jolin, the Jupiter rooms are meant for short-term recovery, not longer-term residency.

"There's no firm timeline, but this isn't intended to be a longterm stay," said Jolin. "Once people recover, we'll be able to move them back into the shelter that they came from. It is a space that is focused on people's ability to manage their symptoms and move on."

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For now, the hotel is staffed by three county employees and one nurse, who will be regularly checking in on the occupants. The county's currently hiring temporary staff to help run the extra shelters, including the Jupiter, during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"It becomes clearer by the day that it's going to take each and every one of us doing what we can to slow this virus," said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury at the press conference. "But to do it... we're going to need more people to step up."

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