Hood River Shelter Services

2020 COVID Operations FAQ Sheet


The mission of Hood River Shelter Services (HRSS) is to compassionately provide a safe place to meet the basic needs of those without shelter during the winter. HRSS has operated a winter Warming Shelter in the community for the past ten years. Due to COVID, HRSS will be utilizing a non-congregate model for the winter of 2020-2021 to meet updated health and safety guidelines and to minimize exposure to and transmission of the virus.

Why is this model needed at this time?

We are living through an unprecedented public health emergency that affects each of our lives. Typical congregate shelter operations are not possible and the non-congregate model based around Pallet Shelters will allow for continued winter Warming Shelter services while providing a more protective model for shelter guests, staff, and volunteers, as well as the community at-large.

Where will the Warming Shelter be located this winter?

Shelter operations will be based around Pallet Shelter emergency shelter units located in the parking lot of Hood River Valley Christian Church. These units will be supported by services mobilized on site including meals, clothing, bedding, toiletries, and bathroom and handwashing services. This is a five-month arrangement only between Hood River Valley Christian Church and HRSS.

What is a Pallet Shelter?

Pallet Shelters are durable, portable, and dignified emergency shelter units. They are highly adaptable and can be utilized in a wide variety of applications. Made of highly durable aluminum and composite materials, they defy the elements and create a comfortable living space. Please see the accompanying Pallet Shelter brochure for more information.

When is the Warming Shelter open?

The shelter is open every night during winter from mid-November through mid-March.

How many people will be staying at the Warming Shelter?

HRSS is purchasing 15 emergency shelter units, for a maximum occupancy of 30 shelter guests per night. Two staff persons will be on site during all hours of shelter operations.

Will there be individuals staying on site throughout the day? 

HRSS will operate a winter Warming Shelter with overnight hours as in the past. One of the conditions of staying at the Shelter is that shelter guests may not remain on the premises during daytime hours when the shelter is closed. Columbia Area Transit has committed to serving our site and regular bus service will allow shelter guests to arrive and depart the shelter in line with shelter operational hours.

How will HRSS comply with COVID health and safety guidelines?

HRSS staff are planning for shelter operations under the direction of COVID guidelines for shelter services from the Center for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority, and shelter operating procedures including cleaning and sanitization will be reviewed by the Hood River County Health Department.

How will be area be monitored?
HRSS staff will be on site during all hours of shelter operations. Video surveillance may also be mobilized to provide enhanced monitoring and security.

Do the Pallet Shelters have smoke detectors and will there be fire extinguishers on site?

Pallet Shelters have hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and there will be fire extinguishers on site. HRSS is in communication with West Side Fire Dept. and will ensure Fire Dept. approval prior to opening.

How does HRSS plan for safety and security of the site and surrounding area?

When a guest arrives for the first time during the winter, a staff member reviews the Guest Agreement with them and the guest signs before staying their first night at the Shelter. Shelter Operating Procedures and Guest Agreement will clearly outline the boundaries of the Shelter as well as other site-specific considerations. Clear guidelines will be incorporated into the Guest Agreement, for example “Loitering on the Church premises outside of Shelter hours is not allowed”. If and when agreements are broken, HRSS staff work with guests to revisit the agreements and arrive at consequences until agreements can be met.

Will there be bathrooms and showers onsite?  

There will be onsite mobile bathrooms and hand washing stations. There will not be onsite showers. HRSS hopes to work with a community partner to arrange for our guests to access both shower and laundry services off-site as we have done in years past.

Which utilities or services will the Pallet Shelters be connected to?

The Pallet Shelters will be connected to electric service only. This is for operations of wall-mounted heaters that are installed in each unit. There is also a hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide unit mounted in each shelter unit. Garbage and internet service will also be provided onsite.

How will meals be provided?

HRSS will provide dinner and breakfast nightly on site at the shelter. Individually packaged meals will be delivered to each shelter unit by shelter staff. HRSS is a partner agency with the Columbia Gorge Food Bank and provides Shelter meals with support from the food bank & local restaurants.

What happens if it snows? Are the shelters comfortable enough in bitter cold?

HRSS will have snow removal procedures incorporated into the site maintenance plan. The Shelters are each equipped with a wall-mounted heater and are rated to comply with local snow and wind load ratings. Shelter staff will work to help meet guests’ individual needs by supplying additional bedding, warm clothing layers, and other supports if we experience severe weather this winter.

Where will a person park when they are staying at the shelter?

Some shelter guests may arrive at the shelter in their own vehicles. The draft site plan identifies a parking area for shelter guests and staff which will be clearly marked and separate from the main church parking area.

What organizations partner with Hood River Shelter Services to support the Warming Shelter?

HRSS is supported by many community partners, including but not limited to the Hood River County Health Department, Hood River County, City of Hood River, Providence Memorial Hospital, Columbia Area Transit, Columbia Gorge Food Bank, Columbia Gorge Health Council, Bridges to Health Pathways, One Community Health, Hood River County Library District, Mid-Columbia Center for Living, Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, and local faith communities, businesses, restaurants, and law enforcement. 

Where can I learn more information and/or to share my questions and concerns?

Website: www.hoodrivercares.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gorgecares/

HRSS staff:    info@hoodrivercares.org