Overnight winter shelters in both Beaverton and Tigard will reopen this month to provide a safe, warm place for unhoused members of the community.
The Beaverton Severe Weather Shelter first opened in 2017, the same year four unhoused people in the Portland area died of exposure during an unusually brutal winter.
Beaverton city officials said the goal of the shelter is to ensure nobody is forced to withstand extremely low temperatures due to a lack of housing.
The shelter in Beaverton reopens Monday, Nov. 15, at the Beaverton Community Center. It will remain open until March 2022. The shelter in Tigard, located at 12280 S.W. Hall Blvd., will reopen mid-November as well.
Both shelters are run by Just Compassion, a nonprofit providing homeless shelters and services located in East Washington County.
Just Compassion's executive director, Vernon Baker, said the pandemic exposed the need for more expanded homeless services, prompting local leaders to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan toward Just Compassion's shelter services.
The Beaverton location, which before COVID-19 was just open once per week, will provide up to 30 adults with three meals a day and be open 24/7. The Tigard location has space for up to 20 adults and will be open from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m.
"If it wasn't for COVID, I don't think we would have made that quantum leap to where we are today," Baker said.
Baker said the shelters Just Compassion runs primarily serve people from Washington County, which had at least 700 homeless individuals in 2021, according to the county's last count.
People who need shelter in the Beaverton or Tigard area must enroll through Community Connect by calling 503-640-3263. Registration begins on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
While registration helps guests secure a spot, Baker said they generally try not to turn people away.
"If someone comes in and we have an opening at night and we don't have the ability or the capacity to get to them, we let them stay overnight and the service coordinator will enter their information in the morning," said Baker.
Beaverton is currently in the process of establishing its first-ever year-round permanent shelter, and while Baker said a more permanent location will help the community tremendously, shelters aren't the only solution to the homeless crisis, and that there is also an elevated need for non-congregate environments — in which people who are sheltered have a room to themselves, rather than sharing a sleeping space with others.
Sometimes due to medical concerns or other challenges, congregate care isn't always the best environment for an individual, Baker added.
"??So non-congregate shelters or motel vouchers are always good alternatives to a congregate shelter," Baker said.
If you or someone you know needs help finding shelter or services, call street outreach coordinator Erika Graves at 503-893-9663.
Anyone who want to get donate or volunteer with Just Compassion can visit justcompassionewc.com/get-involved-1.
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