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Shelter is a temporary space of safety for people who are vulnerable to the elements and environment. They are generally operated by a specific group or organization. The focus of what is provided revolves are three key needs that are assumed to be critical to survival for every person. Water, Food, Safety. Frequently Beds, and showers are included within these services.

In Portland there is a long tradition of support and participation for Shelters. The city's wide range of urban cultures, within a striving often difficult economy has engendered a loyal support for those in need.


Most services which shelters provide are highly structured and standardized. They are ultimately defined and specified by the government grants that fund them. That being said, what grants are able to fund leaves a shelter running at a bare minimum of operation. Any improvements and innovations outside what is defined in the grants is left entirely to the enthusiasm and willingness of the volunteering force. More on Volunteering

Types of Shelters

Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter (SAFES) -- Example of Wet Shelter

While shelters tend to have specific ways and methods for providing its services there do tend to be over all themes that serve as a guiding vision of how it grows and evolves. Here are a few common types.

  • Dry Shelter - Dry shelters follow a simple requirement that no client that is intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is allowed entrance.
  • Wet Shelter - Wet shelters have an uncommon clemency, which allow clients who are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol to still gain entrance. Wet shelters tend to be provided for women-only shelters.
  • Special Group Shelter - Shelters who cater to a specific group, generally a minority. Clients must prove they are part of that group to gain entrance. Examples such as youth, veterans, women, and Native Americans. (The reason for this requirement tends to stem requirement stated from a government grant the agency receives.)
  • Domestic Violence Shelter - Provide emergency shelter and help to women attempting to escape from domestic abuse. These shelters tend to be fortified designed for women and their children to enter and gain the means to live and recover without ever leaving.
  • Intervention Shelter - Provide shelter services to mothers as well as parenting & daycare services. Clothing for women and children as well as supplies such as diapers are available.

Shelter Services

While philosophy and doctrine of the organizations that run shelters may differ, the services provided to the 'client' (the name for those it caters too). There is a general agreement about what shelters should provide as well as elective services.


  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Beds
  • Shower and bathroom facilities
  • Winter day shelter


  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Blood pressure tests
  • TB screenings
  • HIV testing


  • Assistance with obtaining state-issued ID
  • Housing advocacy
  • Financial assistance
  • Transportation Assistance
  • Health Referrals
  • Aftercare services


  • Job Search & Assistance
  • Counseling
  • Occupational Training
  • Mentoring
  • Tutoring GED completion
  • Independent living training


  • Locker space
  • Telephone access
  • Snacks
  • Resting
  • Laundry facilities

Recreational activities

  • TV
  • Coffee & Snacks
  • Groups
  • Bible studies
  • Sunday services
  • Board games, card games

Portland Shelters

30 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR (503) 239-1255
2010 Northwest Kearney Street, Portland, OR (503) 239-1255
11 NW 5th Ave, , Portland, OR (503) 227-8681
1432 Southwest 13th Avenue, Portland, OR (503) 220-0438
111 W. Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
1635 Southwest Alder Street, Portland, OR (503) 224-5988