Friday Digest: December 31, 2021

Warming shelters closed yesterday despite continuing cold weather

Multnomah County announced yesterday that severe weather shelters were closing within hours even as snow remained on the ground in many parts of Portland. The decision was made in coordination with the City of Portland through the Joint Office on Homeless Services. While the decision follows the county’s policies to keep shelters open only as long as precipitation and temperatures are within certain boundaries (such as “Overnight temperatures drop below 32 degrees, with an inch of driving rain”), overnight temperature forecasts are well below freezing. Even setting aside how difficult it is to sleep outside when temperatures fall below 32° in the most ideal situations, there are several strong arguments for keeping shelters open through out these cold snaps (or, you know, actually housing everyone safely regardless of their income: First, people can experience hypothermia at temperatures above 32°, so limiting shelter operations increases the risk of illness or even death. Second, this sort of whiplash destroys trust with people in need of housing support and other services. Given that Portland officials have argued that so-called ‘shelter-resistance’ is a factor in the proliferation of camps throughout the city, the logical step would be keeping severe-weather shelters open as long as possible. (If you hit a paywall on The Oregonian’s site, you can also read their article on MSN News.)

Expecting local governments to even meet the most basic expectations of homeless Portlanders is absurd, however: Multnomah County had previously told people using the severe weather shelters to expect the shelters to remain open through the weekend. Based on that information, shelter users left personal possessions at shelters. When shelters closed abruptly yesterday, shelter staff bagged those possessions and handed them over to Rapid Response Bio Clean, according to multiple social media posts. This morning, Multnomah County announced shelters would reopen at 7 p.m. tonight, reemphasizing the question of why people using the shelters had to spend last night in the cold.

New year, new laws

As the clock rolls over to 2022 tonight, a variety of new state laws take effect and some older laws expire. Here is a selection:

Use your Oregon political contribution tax credit before midnight

Every year, Oregon tax payers can receive a credit for donating to a candidate for Oregon office or an Oregon political committee. To receive the credit, you must make your donation no later than today, December 31, 2021. If you file taxes as an individual, you can receive a credit for a donation of up to $50. If you file jointly, you can receive a credit for a donation of up to $100. The credit is limited to tax payers with an income less than $75,000 (or a combined income of $150,000 for joint filers).

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at