The initiatives include a High-Intensity Street Engagement effort between the city of Portland and Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare to focus housing placement and retention efforts, including culturally specific wraparound services, for people who need the greatest amount of support. It will start in September.
The program will include other service providers, such as the Urban League of Portland and the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest. The Neighborhood Response Team of the Portland Police Bureau will work with the service providers as well.
The initiatives were announced at a City Hall press conference attended by Mayor Charlie Hales, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey, and Dr. Derald Walker, chief executive officer, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.
“This is about focusing our services to those residents most at-risk, those most in need of housing and services,” said Hales. “Thanks to our partners, the service providers, we will look to find services for those homeless Portlanders who require more intensive assistance.
“First, we’ll find services for people. Then we’ll address illegal camp sites,” Hales continued. “’Services first,’ though, is the key.”
“By coordinating services, this model uniquely tailors engagement, interventions and ongoing critical resources that are specifically designed for the individual,” said Walker. ”It wraps around healthcare and housing benefits to provide the essentials in life to some of the most vulnerable folks within our community that the rest of us often take for granted. Cascadia is honored to partner with the City of Portland and so many high quality service organization towards this aim.”
The initiative will cost $924,000. One-time general fund dollars for it were included in the city budget that took effect July 1. The goal is for Cascade Behavioral Health to serve 50 families this first year. If successful, Hale will propose making it an ongoing item in future budget.
The press conference was held a few weeks after a petition drive supported by the Portland Business Alliance that urged city leaders to do something about the increasing number of homeless people and camps in Portland.
Two other programs by the city also were announced Thursday:
- The city will introduce a one-point contact system for residents who want to report behavior-based issues such as illegal activity or people blocking public space. The city will provide a phone number, email address and texting address that residents can use to report problems for all sites within the city, regardless of which agency owns them. That program will debut in October.
- Day Storage Pilot Program: Portland is about to unveil two storage sites, on the east and west side, which houseless people may use to leave their belongings for the day. The facilities will be staffed by outreach workers and will include storage space, toilets, sharps containers, and a kiosk of information from service providers. That program also will debut in October.
The city and county are currently working together to provide housing for hundreds of homeless vets in 2015.