All about Eugene’s CAHOOTS – street outreach program

Communities all over the US and Canada are learning how to replicate Eugene’s CAHOOTS. Here are a set of documents, articles and videos to whet your appetite to know more.

CAHOOTS is available by contract to provide technical assistance and training to agencies and governments. Contact Tim Black, CAHOOTS Operations Coordinator at White Bird Clinic, for more information – tim @ whitebirdclinic.org.

Learn more at the CAHOOTS website

READ – CAHOOTS info sheet – 5 pages (PDF)


ARTICLES

New initiative will fill the gap between police, emergency response and hospital
Siuslaw News – June 16, 2019

Article is about CAHOOTS potentially extending services to western Lane County and the coastal Florence area.


Concerned about police response times, Mayor Wheeler eyes Eugene’s CAHOOTS program
KATU.com – May 2019

Ted Wheeler: “I am very concerned about response times for police officers when there is a real public safety issue in our community. The call volume through our emergency communication center is growing rapidly. And most of the new call volume we’re getting is related to people in crisis on the streets.”


A new answer to 911? Portland could soon send ‘street response teams’ instead of police
KGW.com – May 2019

We’ve been digging into the changing world of Portland’s 911 system. Operators are in the midst of extensive training to find out: Do you really need police? (article mentions CAHOOTS and street outreach coming to Portland).


A restoration of hope continues with police assistance
Eugene Register Guard, May 2019

Eugene Police, CAHOOTS, and Community Supported Shelters put up “conestoga huts” for people who are homeless.


Salem should not yield to Eugene in effort to help the homeless
Salem Statesman Journal, June 2018

Eugene’s CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) could be considered the gold standard.

The non-emergency mobile crisis intervention unit does more than just sober up the homeless. They perform welfare checks and partner with other nonprofits to offer suicide intervention and prevention.

Tim Black, operations coordinator for CAHOOTS, told the Statesman Journal that the city of Eugene and Lane County bought CAHOOTS its mobile mental-health vans.


CAHOOTS an alternative to traditional police, ambulance response
February 2016

You’ve probably seen the van and wondered what it was.

A large, white van – mostly unassuming, save for the logo on the side: CAHOOTS.

Next to the title is a white bird, soaring into the sky. Look at the side of the van closer and you’ll see what CAHOOTS truly means:

“Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets”

“In some places we’re a household name, and you know, and other people are just kind of aware of what we do but maybe not the total scope of our ability,” said Maddy Slayden, a CAHOOTS EMT.


Cahoots gains national attention for their work in Eugene and Springfield
December 2016

Cahoots has been coming to the rescue for people in the community for decades. As the New Year approaches on their 30th year, they have gained national attention for their work.

“We have a much higher call volume these days then we day when I started I think more people are familiar with us,” said CAHOOTS medic and Crisis Worker, Brenton Gicker.

An alternative to 911, Cahoots helps people dealing with mental health problems.


Portland mental health responders, an alternative to police, usually bring cops
Street Roots, May 2019

A heavy reliance on law enforcement is a departure from the original intent of the Multnomah County-funded Project Respond


Mayor Ted Wheeler Considers Eugene’s Model of Mental Health First Response
January 2019

Whether it’s the high cost of health insurance, the scarcity of state-funded psychiatric treatment beds, or the fear of an institutional setting, Portlanders with mental illnesses—especially those without homes—aren’t getting the kind of care they need. It’s a reality not lost on city officials.

“I’m increasingly of the opinion that we are addressing a major public health epidemic,” Wheeler said last Tuesday, referring to the city’s growing mental health needs. “And I’m not sure we have the right tools in place in able to address it.”


White Bird Clinic’s crisis program expands to new location
May 2019

White Bird Clinic’s crisis program is spreading its wings.

The program, which provides walk-in and around-the-clock phone counseling to thousands of local residents each year, is moving from its decades-old home inside the clinic’s headquarters near Mill Street and 12th Avenue to a larger space along West Seventh Avenue.

The pending move is another indication of the rapid growth of the nonprofit — which provides medical, mental, dental care as well as social services to homeless and low-income people — celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the number of residents seeking a helping hand.


Local crisis unit in cahoots with more police agencies
December 2018

With its 30th anniversary approaching, CAHOOTS is balancing significant growth, national media exposure and interest from law enforcement departments who seek to replicate its unique model.


When Mental-Health Experts, Not Police, Are the First Responders
Wall Street Journal – December 2018

DOWNLOAD AND READ – When Mental-Health Experts, Not Police, Are the First Responders – WSJ (PDF)


CAHOOTS starts 24-hour Eugene service in January 2017
December 2016

CAHOOTS, a free, confidential mobile crisis clinic staffed by counselors and medics, is extending will begin operating 24 hours a day in Eugene beginning January 1.

“Things like homelessness never sleeps. People are always homeless. Suicidality never sleeps. Mental health doesn’t sleep,” CAHOOTS Crisis Counselor Ben Adam Climer said. “People can get us all hours of the day. It’s going to be super nice for us to be able to say, you can call for us whenever you need us.”

In June, Eugene’s City Council increased CAHOOTS funding by $225,000 a year. This allowed CAHOOTS to transition into a 24 hour, 7 days a week service.


DOCUMENTS

CAHOOTS program overview with outcome data – 2019 (PDF)

2019 Trifold Brochure – 2019 (PDF)

Street Roots’ “plan” for street outreach in Portland, based on CAHOOTS (PDF)


RADIO

CAHOOTS
Think Out Loud – OPB, December 2018

The Eugene program CAHOOTS is getting national recognition and has become a model for police response to mental health crises in other states. Instead of sending police officers to mental health crisis calls, CAHOOTS sends a crisis worker and medic. CAHOOTS now responds to nearly 20 percent of emergency calls in Eugene and Springfield. We talk to Tim Black, the operations coordinator for CAHOOTS.


Mental Health Counselors In ‘CAHOOTS’ With Local Police In Eugene, Oregon
WBUR – Boston, March 2019

VIDEOS


January 2015

A program that helps people with mental disorders and substance abuse is expanding its services, thanks to new funding from Lane County. Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) has been around for 25 years through the White Bird Clinic in Eugene.


A short video of the Community Outreach Response Team. CORT is a program that uses the EPD Downtown Team, working together with CAHOOTS and Lane County Behavioral Health to focus efforts on outreach in the downtown community.


OTHER CITIES

OLYMPIA

Q13 Fox – June 2019

A new crisis intervention program in the South Sound has hit the streets in an effort to improve Olympia’s downtown core.

It’s called a “Crisis Response Unit,’ and half a dozen behavioral health specialists walk the streets offering a hand up and an ear to those who need it.

Sometimes they give rides to shelters or doctors – and even hand out shoes or snacks.

While the unit doesn’t solely focus on people experiencing homelessness, the majority of their clients are – with that comes referrals for mental or substance abuse treatment for those who want it.

“We don’t run warrants, we don’t snitch on anybody because in this field trust is really important,” said Buck Williams who is part of the team.

The program officially started in April to help keep people in crisis avoid turning a bad situation into something worse.

The city says in the past two months, the team has responded to 700 calls in the downtown core – many times the teams are dispatched by police or find clients on their own.

Olympia’s crisis response team had nearly 700 calls in its first two months
Olympian, June 1, 2019

In its first two months, the unit went on nearly 700 calls, more than half of them initiated by a CRU member, according to numbers provided by the city. Another 73 calls were referred by police or fire crews and 63 came directly from emergency dispatchers.

The vast majority of people they came in contact with were homeless, and the most common presenting problem was related to mental health.

Not every interaction is a crisis. Similar to police officers who work on foot downtown, CRU sees a lot of the same people every day, getting to know their behavior and routines. David Gervais, a CRU member, says he has gotten calls about people who appear to be in crisis when in reality that is a normal day for them.

CRU members can hand out bus passes or give people rides to medical services or to a shelter, for instance. In the back of CRU’s van are granola bars, juice boxes, diapers and blankets; at its office are boxes of shoes and socks and clothes to hand out.

On occasion CRU members carry cigarettes, which can be a good way to get someone to stand still, take a breath and focus their attention.

CRU isn’t meant to be a free ride or a cigarette hookup, but sometimes that is what it takes to de-escalate a situation, says Anne Larsen, outreach services coordinator for the Olympia Police Department who oversees CRU.

More intensive help, such as placement in an inpatient facility, is voluntary, meaning the client needs to want it.

DENVER

Denver Police Testing Idea Of Civilian Teams Responding To Some 911 Calls
Denver.cbslocal.com, June 14, 2019

Denver police are developing a pilot program that would dispatch civilian teams to certain 911 calls. Instead of a police officer, a team of mental health workers and medics would respond.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says when it comes to crisis calls that do not involve a weapon or threat to other community members police may not always be the best response.

“If we have a team of dedicated individuals with those types of backgrounds, we feel like we can have a positive impact on our most vulnerable population,” Chief Pazen said.