Along with being the longest night of the year, the winter solstice—December 21—is recognized as National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. According to data collected by Multnomah County, at least 126 residents who died in 2020 were homeless at the time of their death. The data has yet to be compiled for 2021. This evening, city leaders and activist groups will hold memorial services for homeless individuals who died in the past year. One will be in Downtown Portland, while the other will be in North Portland.
To honor the day, we're sharing information on how to help homeless neighbors survive what's expected to be a cold, wet winter.
If you know anyone who many want a warm place to spend the night, here's a comprehensive list of all available shelters in the Portland metro region. The Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) will open additional warming shelters during "severe weather," or days when temperatures are forecast at 25 degrees or below, nights that drop below 32 degrees, or when an inch of snow is predicted. Find out more about those emergency shelters here.
Please click through to each program's website for more details on specific drop-off instructions and hours
JOIN: Needs thick socks, waterproof/water resistant gloves or mittens, waterproof/water resistant hats, waterproof/water resistant hand warmers, waterproof/water resistant pants, rain ponchos, tents, sleeping bags, and warm blankets and tarps (preferably dark colors for all items). Also accepting donations through their Amazon wishlist.
Do Good Multnomah: Needs winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves, socks, underwear, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, twin sheet sets, and bath towels. Also accepting donations through their Amazon wishlist.
Hazelnut Grove Village: Needs firewood, small propane tanks, gallons of drinking water, gallons of whole milk, and warm women's clothes (size 2-4).
Impact NW: Needs thick socks, waterproof/ water resistant gloves or mittens, waterproof/ water resistant winter coats (adults, all sizes), sleeping bags, warm blankets, waterproof/ water resistant hats, knit hats, tarps, hand warmers, rain ponchos (preferably dark colors for all items). Also accepting donations through their Amazon wishlist.
NW Pilot Project: Needs pillows, flashlights with batteries, gift cards to Fred Meyer and Safeway, can openers, sauce pans, measuring spoons, serving spoons, and pot holders. Also accepting donations through their Amazon wishlist.
Blanchet House: Needs warm and waterproof adult items for outdoor sleeping, adult jackets, hats, gloves, socks, tents, tarps, and sleeping bags. Also accepting donations through their Amazon wishlist.
Janus Youth Programs: Needs socks, underwear, thermal underwear, hand warmers, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, tarps, mats, baby wipes, diapers, formula, and travel sized hygiene products (soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene items).
Human Solutions: Needs baby wipes, baby wash, new socks and underwear (all sizes), hygiene products, hair products, brushes, combs, blankets, and gloves.
Family Village: Needs winter coats and raincoats for all sizes, hats, gloves, and scarves, new warm socks, new underwear, diapers and wipes, full-size toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, razors, shaving cream, toothbrush, tooth paste, deodorant, hair brushes), and high-efficiency liquid laundry detergent.
Please click through to each program's website for more details on volunteer opportunities.
Transition Projects: Needs volunteers to staff cold weather shelters.
Blanchet House: Needs individuals to serve food, sort donations, or cook meals.
Janus Youth: Needs volunteers to donate meals, help with events, collect donations, and provide peer support.
Human Solutions: Needs volunteers to drive and pick up and drop off food donations, and to cook meals for or drop-off shelter potlucks.
Multnomah County: Needs volunteers to help run the county's cold weather emergency shelters.
Operation Nightwatch: Needs individuals to help run a shower program and/or hospitality room, and to offer first aid supplies.
JOIN: Needs volunteers to pick up and drop off donated food, support JOIN's day programs, and help process donations.
Show up —
Supporting Portland's homeless population can be as easy as checking in on people living outside or in cars in your neighborhood. If you have the time and means, ask if there's anything you can do to help a neighbor out this holiday season. Maybe bake them some cookies. Drop off hand warmers. Sometimes, just saying hello goes a long way.