The Link guys are movin’ upstairs! That’s right, the third floor of our Burnside Shelter that has been under renovation this summer has officially opened, allowing the men in our work-exchange program to move from the bottom floor to the roomier, sunlit upstairs bedrooms.
“It’s really nice. It’s beautiful up here,” says Eric, a Link resident. “They did a great job. All the workers who put their time in, volunteering to get this thing together – they did a great job.”
The rooms vary in size, holding anywhere from 4 to 12 men, and are furnished with nightstands and wardrobes. The Link residents also have access to separate restrooms, showers, and lockers.
“It’s good to get some more space – more individual rooms and privacy,” Garrett, one of the Link residents, says. “It’s cleaner – it’s a new facility. New stuff is always exciting.”
Not only does this space give the transitional Link residents a more “at-home” feel, but it also opens up 34 more emergency beds for men currently living on the streets, vitally important with the upcoming winter season. These downstairs beds will be available on a night-by-night basis, determined by a daily lottery system. Each day we pass out lottery tickets, and if a man’s number is called, he’ll get a bed for that one night. The next day, he can enter the bed lottery again.
When asked how important these emergency beds are to homeless people during the winter, Link resident Andy was very clear:
When you’re on the streets in a doorway, you never know who’s walking by. You can wake up and your gear is gone, that’s happened many times. I’ve gotten up to go to the bathroom across the street and all my sleeping gear is gone, that fast. And it’s 26 degrees out. So what do you do? You end up walking the night, just to stay warm. Because you can’t lay there. You could, but if you did fall asleep, you’d probably freeze.
The men in our Link program came directly from living on the streets. Now, they work alongside Portland Rescue Mission staff in exchange for a place to stay, meals to eat, and a variety of other services to support them while they secure housing and employment.
“It’s a chance to rejuvenate your life,” Link resident Ron says. “We all have bad days, bad months, bad years. When there’s something like this, it really gives a person hope.”
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