Transition Projects helps homeless face winter weather

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – KOIN 6 News spent the day with people from a non profit getting the vulnerable ready for another night in the cold.

Patrick lives on the streets and told KOIN 6 News that last winter, doctors surgically removed his toes due to frostbite.

Today, Michael Lee Ryan with Transition Projects gave Patrick a bus ticket in order to get to a warming center.

“It’s my passion, I love my job. Pretty much everyone that we engage will thank us for everything we give them,” Ryan said.

Ryan and two of his colleagues at Transition Projects, Brian Cooper and Megan Cooley, teamed up Wednesday afternoon and will drive around until 10 p.m. checking on people in the cold.

Transition Projects had an SUV loaded with items like hand warmers, beanies, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, tarps and bagged lunches. They also hand out bus passes to take people to warming centers.

They said one of the most important things about Wednesday’s outreach is getting the word out about warming centers.

Cooley has been doing severe weather outreach since last Saturday and explained “we just kinda pull up say ‘hi we’re here do you need anything? Can we give you a tent, a sleeping bag’ anything that will keep them safe and then we let them know there are resources to get to a warming center.”

While Transition Projects does daily outreach, they’re now focused on keeping the people who are most vulnerable safe in these treacherous temperatures. The supplies they hand out are provided by the Joint Office Of Homeless Services.

Cooper said the homeless crisis is symptomatic of larger issues and won’t be solved until there’s more money for mental health services.

“You can make people move but they’re just going to keep coming right back because of the underlying barriers they’re facing. You can get them housed, you can do all this other stuff, but until you tackle everything as a whole they’re going to keep repeating the same thing,” Cooper said.

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