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Jan-07-2008 16:08printcomments

Red Cross Warming Centers Will be Open Tonight

Print this story and drop it off with homeless people in the Portland area, you could save their life.

Oregon homeless family by: Tim King
Oregon homeless families can get out of the cold for a night through help the Red Cross Warming Centers. Photo of Oregon homeless family by: Tim King

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - For many of us, tonight's frigid temperatures mean curling up at home with a cozy fire and cup of hot cocoa. But for Portland's homeless community, extreme winter weather can mean hypothermia or even death.

Lise Harwin with the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross says that for the fifth time this season, will open emergency warming centers for this vulnerable population as the thermometer drops.

Two Red Cross centers are expected to open tonight:

* Estate Hotel, 225 NW Couch – 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

* Calvary Christian Ministries, 126 NE Alberta – 8:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

Both locations will maintain an open door policy, so guests may come and go freely. Pets are welcome.

While the emergency warming centers will provide safe respite from the cold, a place to sleep, hot coffee and soup, they differ from traditional Red Cross shelters in that clothing and financial support are not be available.

Warming centers also differ in that they allow pets, which Hardwin says is typically not the practice in Red Cross shelters. They also open repeatedly throughout the cold season she said.

"The Red Cross anticipates opening warming centers anywhere from ten to 20 times each winter and serving as many as 150 people each night that the centers are open."

The Estate Hotel, which has opened on four previous occasions, averages close to 60 guests each time it opens. Hardwin says the other sites have opened just once with only a handful of guests, but volumes are expected to increase as they become more established in the community.

Warming Center Activation Requirements

The City of Portland alerts the Oregon Trail Chapter when they believe conditions require the center activation. These circumstances include:

Under DRY conditions

* 25 degrees Fahrenheit or below, including consideration of the wind chill factor

Under WET conditions

* 35 degrees Fahrenheit or below, including consideration of the wind chill factor AND

* Any snow/freezing rain/sleet OR

* 1" or more of rain within 12 hours

Other combinations of weather conditions that place homeless persons at risk of loss of life or serious negative health consequences.

Volunteers interested in staffing the Red Cross emergency warming centers should contact Mike Fish at 503-528-5699 or

Print this story and drop it off with homeless people, you could save their life.

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