PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the quick onset of chilly winter-like temperatures, organizations across the area are already working toward protecting those most vulnerable.
As of Friday afternoon, Blanchet House was down to a single rack of coats. Everything they had left to hand out to the homeless to keep warm as temperatures dip down into the 30s — likely to be gone by the end of the next meal service.
“The rack that you’re looking at right here, that’s about a half hour. That will be gone in about a half hour. That will leave some of our meal guests that are here not able to get a jacket during that particular service,” Jennifer Ransdell with Blanchet House said. “Folks have just a hoodie or people aren’t really able to keep their things together so they need that coat and they might not know where they’re going for the evening.”
Blanchet House, which serves those in need, said they’re in dire need of cold weather gear donations as winter creeps closer, the Portland area getting a taste of that this weekend — from sturdy jackets to gloves, which they are completely out of.
“We also really need gloves. We are at zero on gloves,” Ransdell said. “When your hands are cold, it’s just so hard to maneuver and to warm up other parts of your body.”
Having enough resources for the unhoused during the cold is an issue seen across the state. The Salem area faces state funding cuts that would normally help run warming shelters during cold weather, as community non-profits now rely on the limited money the city could provide.
“The issue about the warming shelter is the state dollars were cut and we’re trying to figure out if we’re going to run a volunteer network or a paid staff network,” Salem Mayor Chris Hoy said during a budget hearing on Wednesday. “We don’t run the warming shelters, that’s the job of Community Action. The question is are they going to do that just on the $150,000 we gave them or is the money that the state redirected to another purpose going to be re-redirected back to that program.”
With temps dipping down close to freezing Community Action’s ARCHES Project will keep their day center open as a warming shelter overnight, seeking out volunteers.
As for donations like coats and even cold weather kits like some dropped off Friday with hand warmers and emergency blankets, Blanchet House says any help from the community is appreciated.
“We can’t do it without folks out there that can look through their closet and grab a few things and hop in their car and bring them on down,” Ransdell said.
Most of the tri-county area confirmed they’re not opening warming shelters just yet, as the temperatures don’t quite meet the threshold.
If you have extra cold weather gear you’re not using and would like to donate to those in need, you can go to Blanchet House. They’re open to donations Monday through Saturday, from 8 to 10:30 a.m., as well as from 1 to 4 p.m.