PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland’s iconic Jupiter Hotel on East Burnside is opening its rooms to those in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
The hotel announced Thursday that it had partnered with Multnomah County and the Joint Office of Homeless Services to expand the county’s shelter system and protect people who are medically at-risk.
All of the hotel’s 81 rooms in its original renovated 1962 motor lodge will be available for the next several weeks to people already accessing Multnomah County shelter services.
By Thursday afternoon, the Jupiter Hotel had welcomed 12 people.
“This story I think highlights exactly why small businesses are so important to our community,” said Jupiter Hotel General Manager Nick Pearson. “Once we started talking to the county about what their needs were, it was really a no-brainer for us to work together.”
The rooms will be reserved for those who may have respiratory symptoms but have not tested positive for COVID-19 and are too vulnerable to stay in a large shelter.
“We are in the process right now of working with our shelter providers to ID folks who are struggling with symptoms, who would be best to have in this setting,” said Marc Jolin with the Office of Joint Homeless Services.
Denis Theriault with the Office of Joint Homeless Services said the hotel will be paid a reduced rate for the rooms: about $79 per night. He said that money will support hotel employees who might otherwise face layoffs.
“It isn’t intended to be a long-term stay, it really is the opportunity for folks to await the outcomes of their tests and if they are feeling better, we’ll move them back,” Jolin said.
Jupiter NEXT, which is a separate building next door on SE 9th Avenue and E Burnside Street, will remain open to the public as a hotel. Pearson said they’re also working with hospitals to find out what their needs might be to potentially house medical staff at Jupiter NEXT.
“We are actively working to support and house our front-line medical staff who cannot return to their homes at this time,” he said.
Shelters have also been opened in the Charles Jordan Community Center and the Oregon Convention Center. The East Portland Community Center is expected to open as early as Friday as a women-only shelter.
None of these temporary shelters are meant to increase local shelter capacity—but rather space people out to help with social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.