PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dangerously cold temperatures are on the way, potentially putting many in the homeless community at risk.

KOIN 6 Meteorologist Kelley Bayern reports that the first day of winter could bring a wave of arctic air and freezing rain to the Willamette Valley and the low-lying areas of Southwest Washington. Although Bayern says that the current forecasts remain volatile and are subject to change, Multnomah County is discussing the ways it plans to keep thousands of homeless people safe and warm.

The county’s cold weather shelters don’t open until temperatures reach 25 degrees or lower for four hours in dry weather, or if temperatures are below the freezing mark with significant rain. Denis Theriault with the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services says they will announce when shelters are opening a day in advance.

Theriault says the number of sites they open depends on how quickly each one fills up.

“Luckily, we kind of worked to identify sites months before the winter, so we know that we’ve got three or four or maybe up to five sites that we could use, depending on where [the] need is the highest, what capacity looks like,” Theriault said. “We wouldn’t necessarily open them all at once.”

In the meantime, the JOHS tells KOIN 6 News about 100 of its outreach workers are out on the streets, passing out warm gear and making sure people are aware of the cold weather advisory in effect. They also ensure folks know about the warming centers and how to get to them.

In the past, the county has covered costs for an uber or taxi when transporting people to shelters, but this year, the office says they’ll have workers out and about in vans, giving rides to anyone needing to get to a shelter.

Donate and Volunteer in Multnomah County

In prior years, severe weather shelters have run into issues with not having enough volunteers. Thankfully, the JOHS says they’re good on volunteers this year — but they do need donations. Visit the link above to learn more.