‘Cut for Bieber’ Internet hoax targets young fans

By Jenny Westberg, Portland Mental Health Examiner, Jan. 9, 2013

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

Fans of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber are the targets of a virulent Internet hoax that uses fake Twitter accounts and hashtags like #Cut4Bieber to manipulate them into cutting themselves, supposedly to convince the singer not to smoke pot, The Oregonian reported yesterday.

Earlier this week, as the sham trending topic soared to over 26,000 hits in 12 hours, alarm and disgust also rose. Miley Cyrus joined in Jan. 7, retweeting a message from another user:

“Who tweeted “‪#cutforbieber? Cutting is NOT something to joke about. There are people who are actually suffering from self-harm, this is so disrespectful.”

The shocking hoax started on a message board at the 4Chan website, Complex revealed Jan. 7, with an anonymous troll suggesting they “get some little girls to cut themselves” by starting a fake movement to get Bieber to stop using marijuana. The thread (which has since been removed) included several, similar hashtags and suggestions to post pictures of acts of self-harm.

While some of the pictures were obvious phonies, TheCelebrityCafe said others appear to be genuine.

The trolls also created fake Twitter accounts, for Mary “Jazzy” Richards and Addison Smith, and falsely claimed the two were dead because of the scam.

Bieber has so far been silent about the hoax.

Cutting and other types of self-injury are not rare. According to HealthyPlace,1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males self-harm each year. Even that might be low. Many who cut or self-harm feel shame about it and try to keep it secret.

Yesterday a new web page sprang up, called “Don’t #Cut4Bieber.” Here are some resources to help.

Resources on self-harm:

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Rally for Universal Health Care in Oregon on February 4

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane. – Martin Luther King, Jr. 1966

jwj bw

Rally for Universal Health Care in Oregon
February 4 – State Capitol, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Representative Michael Dembrow has reintroduced the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act, a comprehensive, equitable, publicly funded, high quality health care system serving everyone in Oregon. It is time to get behind the bill and push for passage. This is a tremendous job and to do it, we need to create a massive grassroots movement. Can you commit to be there?

Please sign up at one of the links below:

More information? Contact the Jobs with Justice Healthcare Committee 503/236-5573

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AMA Coalition files court papers to intervene in city-DOJ negotiated settlement on police reforms

From The Oregonian, January 7, 2013

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Tuesday afternoon filed a motion in federal court to intervene in the city agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice governing Portland police reforms.

Eds. Note: The motion for intervention was filed by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform – not the Albina Ministerial Alliance. The AMA Coalition is a project of the AMA, but also includes other organizations and individuals which are not members of the AMA, including Disabity Rights Oregon, the Oregon chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the Mental Health Association of Portland, and Portland Copwatch which is a project of Peace and Justice Works.

The alliance seeks to intervene as a plaintiff in the pending case United States of America v. City of Portland.

READ – Memorandum in support of AMA motion to intervene, 21 pages (PDF)
READ – Declaration of Dr. LeRoy Haynes iso AMA motion to intervene, 6 pages (PDF)
READ – Intervenor-plaintiff AMA Coalition’s motion to intervene, 2 pages (PDF)
READ – Officer-involved shootings and other in-custody deaths by the Portland Police Department, 2000-2011, Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition, 31 pages (PDF)

The alliance argued that the settlement agreement failed to address concerns raised about police use of force against people of color; lacks strict restrictions on police use of Tasers and provides no formal process for court oversight once an agreement is signed.

“Thus it is critical that an intervener representing the public’s interests be part of this process,” attorneys J. Ashlee Albies and Shauna Curphey wrote in a motion on behalf of the alliance.

The alliance is a group of 125 Portland-area churches that has been engaged in social justice work since the 1970s. The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform was founded in 2003 after the officer-involved fatal shooting of Kendra James.

“The AMA Coalition, with its diversity and deep roots in the communities most affected by the Portland Police Bureau’s excessive use of force against people with mental illness and persons of color, and long history of police reform advocacy in Portland is best suited to represent the interests of the community as an intervenor,” the attorneys wrote in a memorandum in support of its motion.

The Albina Ministerial Alliance submitted to the court a chart of shootings over the past decade. Its research found that at least 30 percent of the 61 people shot at or killed by Portland police were people of color, in a city that is almost 79 percent white. Of those 61 people, 14, or 23 percent were African American, according to the Alliance’s court filing. Twenty-two of the 61 people, or 36 percent, were unarmed, according to the alliance’s analysis.

Tuesday was the deadline for any person or group to file a motion to intervene in the case.

The Portland Police Association is the other group to have sought such intervention.

The U.S. Department of Justice and City of Portland have until Jan. 22 to respond to the motions.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon will hold a hearing Feb. 19 to rule on them.

The court filings stem from the U.S. Department of Justice’s nearly 15-month investigation into use of force by Portland police. The inquiry found police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.

The settlement, approved by the City Council on Nov. 14, calls for widespread changes to Portland police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. A community liaison official would be hired to oversee the agreement, under the settlement. A federal judge would maintain jurisdiction over the agreement, and could be asked to intervene if the agreement is not followed.

The Portland Police Association also has filed a motion to intervene. In court papers filed last month, the police union argues that the negotiated changes to Portland police policies and procedures undermine the collective bargaining rights of union members.

The union cited a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case that allowed the Los Angeles Police Protective League to intervene in a consent decree before the federal court on Los Angeles police reforms in 2002.

Members of the public will be able to participate in a so-called “fairness hearing” before the federal judge at a future time to express their opinions on whether the negotiated settlement is “fair, adequate and reasonable.” No date has been set for that public hearing.

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Columbia River Mental Health Services lays off 16

From the Columbian, January 5, 2013

Columbia River Mental Health Services has eliminated 16 positions in an attempt to reduce the nonprofit’s infrastructure and recoup financial losses.

The cuts were primarily to support staff positions, rather than staff who directly provide services to clients. As a result, the cuts will not affect programs, said Lynn Samuels, executive director of Columbia River Mental Health.

The big driver for the layoffs was financial, she said.

For the last two years, the nonprofit has lost money. Eliminating those 16 positions will save the nonprofit about $800,000 a year in salaries and benefits, Samuels said.

“Being a nonprofit doesn’t mean you can operate in the red,” she said. “Eventually, you run out of money. It’s not a business model that can be sustained.”

The other reason for the layoffs, Samuels said, is that the organization’s client base has shrunk, making a large infrastructure unnecessary.

Clark County currently has one of the lowest rates of Medicaid patients seeking behavioral health services. In addition, the nonprofit lost the contract to operate Hotel Hope, an inpatient facility, three years ago, Samuels said.

The declining client population left the organization too top-heavy, she said.

Columbia River Mental Health began offering voluntary layoffs last summer. A few people accepted the offers, but the nonprofit issued the bulk of the layoffs in December, Samuels said.

The positions included three directors, three managers, one IT position and one accounting position, among other support positions, she said. The nonprofit now has about 180 employees.

It will now focus on getting back to its core services and business model, and work to strengthen those areas, Samuels said.

“Three thousand people, on any given day, are counting on us,” she said.

Columbia River Mental Health, founded in 1942, provides a range of behavioral health services for children, adults and families in Clark County.

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Help is sought for annual homeless count

Portland Housing Bureau is looking for volunteers to help with “One Night Shelter” counts – volunteers gather information about people sleeping in emergency shelters, motels, and transitional homes. Other volunteers will help with a street count, visiting areas around Multnomah County where people are sleeping outside, without shelter.

Volunteers can also help with data entry following the count.

The count is done Wednesday, January 30 – so CLICK HERE NOW to get signed up and start helping end homelessness

Trainings are on Tuesday, January 15, Thursday, January 17, Tuesday, January 22, and Wednesday, January 23.

If you are unable to attend any of the trainings, please contact Mary Welch at mary.welch@portlandoregon.gov to make special arrangements.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Mary Welch at Mary.Welch@portlandoregon.gov or (503) 823-3403. Although not required, organizers encourage those who wish to volunteer attend one of three training sessions being held. If you are unable to attend any of the trainings, please contact Mary to make special arrangements.

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Eyes & Ears – January 2013

Here’s the January 2013 edition of Eyes & Ears, a mental health consumer run newsletter

 

for consumers, their friends & family and mental health professionals.

Download and read the January 2013 issue at:
Online Reading Version of Eyes & Ears – with links

Full article version of Eyes & Ears – for printing

Contact the editor at: eyes.ears_newsletter@yahoo.com

Included in this issue:

*  Federal court judge wants public input on the negotiated Portland-federal justice agreement on police reforms
*  Oregon Health Authority Joins Portland Police on DOJ Watchlist
*  Recovery-Oriented Research Funded by Mental Healthcare Foundation
*  Federal Benefit Paper Checks to Stop in 2013, Sign Up for Direct Deposit
*  David W. Oaks’ Message To the World: “Cracking the Nut of Normality”
*  How 7 Historic Figures Overcame Depression
*  Extra on the online version with links: Rejection, bullying are risk factors among shooters; Medicaid Expansion Offers Richer Benefits to 200,000 Oregonians; CNN’s Dr. Gupta on Trauma, SSRIs, Suicides & School Shooting; and more
*  Coming events: Open Dialogue workshop and free film showing; Alien Boy premiers at Film Festival;
Rethinking Psychiatry talk on the benefits of acupuncture for treating trauma and PTSD

Besides other news there are a variety of listings of meetings, services, support groups, job opportunities and more.

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Bloomberg survey: Throughout U.S., 64 people with mental illness were killed by police in 2012

By Tom Moroney and Lindsey Rupp, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Dec. 27, 2012

Michael Mahoney and sister Tara

Michael Mahoney and sister Tara

Hit squads from the Mexican mafia. Gangs of painkiller-thieving youths. The government. They were coming, always coming. From around the corner or down the street, he couldn’t know where.

Michael Mahoney, 36, had a hard life, spending months in juvenile detention centers and six years in prison before deciding to turn things around. He enrolled in welding courses and cared for his ailing father in their Oxnard, California, home. Then his schizophrenia took over. He lived his last months in fear and paranoia, once screaming out, “Kill me!”

Then someone did.

Mahoney died Aug. 14 of a gunshot wound to the chest after three officers, responding to a report of a man with a weapon, fired on him. He was one of 64 mentally-ill people who died after being shot with a gun or electroshock device by U.S. law enforcement this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s about three times the number police indicated in a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice survey, the last year for which statistics are available.

At least 16 of the 64 had schizophrenia, were prone to violence and avoided taking medications. Some had been released from hospitals after stays families thought were too brief to be therapeutic. Mahoney spent 45 hours in a psychiatric center where he’d been confined for his own safety, discharged nine days before he died with a flare gun in his hand.

“It is a shame that a bullet is what our mental health safety net has become,” said Louis Josephson, chief executive officer of Riverbend Community Mental Health Inc. in Concord, New Hampshire, which offers outpatient and residential programs.

System’s Failures

The failures of the U.S. health care system in treating the seriously mentally ill have swelled the workload of police in all 50 states and put the emotionally disturbed at the mercy of officers who may have little or no training in defusing situations fueled by psychosis.

While no diagnosis has been made public, the emotional state of Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, has focused attention on the role of mental health in violence. At a news conference Dec. 18, President Barack Obama vowed to make treatment for mental illness as easy to obtain as a gun. Lanza’s main weapon was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle.

“Clearly, he was troubled,” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy said in an interview with CNN. “You have to be deranged to carry out this kind of crime.”

Diminishing Care

In a 2011 survey, 82 percent of 2,400 police chiefs and sheriffs said calls to deal with the mentally ill had increased substantially over their time in office, according to Michael Biasotti, president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and chief of the department in New Windsor.

Now the use of force against the mentally ill is a major focus of U.S. Department of Justice investigations, according to Jonathan Smith, head of the agency’s civil rights special litigation section. “You’ve got your finger on what is among the largest issues in law enforcement,” he said.

Smith tied the shootings, in part, to the diminishment of U.S. health care for the mentally ill. The number of beds in state hospitals has plummeted 92 per cent to 42,385 in 2011 from the mid-1950s. Laws in 44 states designed to force the most seriously ill to stay on their medication are often underused or ignored, according to Brian Stettin of the non-profit Treatment Advocacy Center.

The average duration of acute-care psychiatric hospital stays has dropped 60 percent since 1993, and is now at 7.8 days — far from the two weeks doctors say is the minimum for introducing new drug therapies and stabilizing patients.

‘Going Downhill’

Mahoney’s family is convinced the brevity of his last hospitalization left him agitated and delusional, and led to the episode that ended his life. “My brother didn’t have to die,” said his twin sister, Tara.

She and her brother, Brian, and their father said they are also angry at the police. “The society’s going downhill when the cops can just shoot anybody they want,” Brian said.

Oxnard Police Commander Scott Hebert rejected the suggestion of improper behavior. “We never want to put our officers in a spot where they have to do what they did,” he said. “The story, in my opinion, is the mental health system.”

None of the officers in the 64 incidents Bloomberg documented has been found criminally liable.

Last year, the Justice Department conducted its first investigation based solely on violent police encounters with the mentally ill, in Portland, Oregon. The agency found a “pattern or practice of unreasonable force” in nine cases, and gaps in mental health care that increased the frequency of potentially fatal police encounters.

Toy Guns

In a proposed settlement with the federal agency, Portland agreed to hire additional staff to train officers and work with mental-health groups in the city, among other steps. The cost in the first year is estimated at $5.8 million.

The Justice Department ordered New Orleans police in 2011 and Seattle police in 2012 to take similar actions after wide- ranging probes of their departments. How officers deal with the mentally ill will be a necessary component of all future police investigations, Smith said.

In 49 of the 64 incidents in Bloomberg’s count, individuals were armed or appeared to be. Twenty-one had knives and 19 had guns. There were two with hammers, two with machetes, one holding a bat and another a sword. Three carried toy guns.

Stealing Coffee

In Saginaw, Michigan, on July 1, it was a folding knife. Milton Hall, a 49-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia, was shot 46 times after six officers responded to a call that he’d left a convenience store without paying for a cup of coffee, according to the attorney for his estate, Debra Freid. Hall had “acted aggressively,” brandishing the knife, according to police.

Some of the 64 did serious harm to others. Pralith Pralourng, 32, had taken nothing for his schizophrenia for more than a year in July when he injured a coworker with a box-cutter at a San Francisco chocolate factory. Police shot and killed Pralourng when he turned the box-cutter on them.

In August, Charlene Fears, 38, released recently from a hospital, fatally stabbed her four-year-old grandson at her home in Buffalo. Covered in blood and wielding two butcher knives, Fears, one of six women in Bloomberg’s survey, charged at officers trying to help the boy and was shot and killed.

A preponderance of those in uniform have no idea how to deal with mental illness, and “man, are they quick to shoot,” said Michael Woody, president of CIT International, a Memphis- based nonprofit that organizes programs in 50 states and four countries in crisis intervention training, or CIT.

Road Rage

Only 10 percent of the nation’s 25,000 police departments offer CIT or teach de-escalation techniques to deal with the mentally ill in crises, psychotic or otherwise, according to a University of Memphis study.

In CIT sessions, officers learn to engage in what’s called reflective listening: “So, I hear you saying. . . ” The next step is to have a disturbed individual sit, as officers maintain eye contact and, finally, to convince the person to come along peaceably, said Woody, a retired 25-year veteran of the Akron, Ohio, police department.

Lack of training is cited in a lawsuit filed in November against the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police by the parents of Christopher Torres, 27, who was shot and killed in April 2011. At the same time, the Justice Department opened an investigation of 25 police shootings over the last three years in the city. Thirteen involved people with mental illnesses, according to Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz.

Torres was under a doctor’s care for schizophrenia on April 12, 2011, when two detectives went to the family home to arrest him for a road-rage incident, according to the lawsuit.

Mental-Illness Database

He was in the backyard when one of the plain-clothes detectives jumped a fence and the other broke a section of the fence to gain access, according to the suit. It claims they both beat Torres, and that within two minutes one had allegedly shot him three times in the back at point-blank range.

Torres punched one detective in the face, grabbed his gun and aimed at both before he was shot, according to the city’s public safety department.

Kathleen Love, the attorney for his estate, disputed the notion that Torres “got his hands on a gun or was in any position to have control over the gun.”

Detectives should have known he was schizophrenic and to approach him differently, she said, because his parents had told police to summon a CIT officer or call them if there was ever an incident involving their son.

Schultz, the police chief, said the department has recently hired a full-time psychiatrist, set up a database to identify residents with mental illnesses and offered more CIT training.

‘Suicide-By-Cop’

“The instances of police shooting the mentally ill are rising but not as fast as they could be because of the measures we’ve taken,” Schultz said.

Tony Monheim, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who teaches courses in officer-involved shootings and homicide investigations, said training can only go so far.

“It’s perfectly clear to me that someone who attacks a police officer with a piece of a plate-glass window is not thinking clearly,” Monheim said. “But what is a cop supposed to do? Put them on a couch? Analyze them? There’s just no time for that.”

In a 2009 study of 707 officer-involved shootings in North America, Los Angeles forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie characterized 36 percent of them as “suicide by cop” –meaning those who were killed had provoked the lethal response.

Deaths Report

As far back as 1984, controversy has followed the police- shooting deaths of the mentally ill. That was the year Eleanor Bumpurs, a 300-pound woman who New York City police say was emotionally disturbed, was killed in her Bronx apartment.

Bumpurs had fallen behind in her rent, and officers entering the apartment to evict her were confronted by the 69- year-old holding a knife. They struggled and she was fatally shot, sparking protests.

The best approach would have been to “to wait the person out, starve them out, unless there was some other reason they were a danger to other people,” said former Mayor Ed Koch, who was in office at the time.

In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics decided to try to include data on encounters with the mentally ill in its annual arrested-related deaths report, according to Howard Snyder, the bureau’s deputy director.

It added a new question to a survey that police departments fill out in every case of a death during an arrest or confrontation: “At any time during the arrest/incident, did the deceased exhibit any mental health problems?”

In all but rare instances, “nobody would check that box,” said Andrea Burch, a statistician who directs the annual report.

Too Sketchy

The question was just too difficult to answer correctly, or honestly. “If someone is running down the street, naked, screaming they’re God,” she said, does an officer have any way of knowing whether the person is mentally ill or drunk or on drugs? So the question would often go unanswered, she said.

In 2009, the only year for which survey results were made available to Bloomberg, 3 percent of the 729 questionnaires showed the box for that question checked, Burch said, for a rough estimate of 22 arrested-related deaths identified as involving someone with a mental illness or mental health issues.

The bureau never made the results public and next year will stop asking the question because the data it yielded was too sketchy, Snyder, the deputy director, said.

Learning Disabilities

For its survey, Bloomberg gathered more than 100 news articles about police shootings involving the mentally ill in 2012. After checking with police, district attorneys and medical records, only those incidents in which mental illness could be confirmed were counted. The discarded reports show the actual number of such shootings could be much larger.

By his calculation, based on conversations with police officers, Woody of CIT International said he believes 25 percent of the 400 or so fatal shootings captured annually in Justice Department statistics involve someone with a mental illness or mental health issues.

The records for Mahoney show an evolving range of disorders that culminated in his final hospital stay with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

He and his twin were born in 1975 in Paramount, California. “I was five minutes ahead of him,” Tara said. “He used to tell everybody I stepped on his forehead to get out first.”

They grew up in Oxnard, a city of 200,000 about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. He coped with learning disabilities and was reading at a second-grade level in the fifth grade, according to his teacher, Nesta Campbell, who taught him in a classroom of special-needs children.

Prison Letters

By 13, he was part of a gang of skinheads. He praised Hitler and came home with swastikas tattooed on his leg. When he was 19, he moved with a friend to Phoenix, where he was charged in the beating of an Hispanic man. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years in prison.

He wrote letters to his sister. One dated April 24, 1998, hinted at what was to come. “I need you to send me a doctor,” he wrote. “I will die if you do not get me help. Something is (expletive) me up inside.”

A few lines later: “Ask Dad. He said I was crazy.”

He came home when he was 27. The violent streak was gone, yet his mental illness blossomed. He was admitted to hospitals as a psychiatric patient at least five times between 2009 and 2011, county health records show. Then he made a concerted effort to straighten out his life, his sister said.

‘Kill Me!’

When he wasn’t taking courses toward a certificate in welding, he was his father’s caretaker, cleaning and cooking, she said. And he doted on his nephew, James, now three.

“He was just starting to live,” she said.

An aspirin overdose in November 2011 led to infection and surgery to remove sections of his large and small intestines. He came home at the end of the year, gaunt and pale, with two colostomy bags strapped to his abdomen, according to his father.

In June, his father embarked on a seven-week trip across the country, leaving him home with his older brother, Brian. While Brian was at work, Michael would tell neighbors wild tales about youths ransacking his house for painkillers and Mexican assassins looking to do him in.

Just before midnight Aug. 1, a neighbor called police after he heard Mahoney screaming. When they arrived, a neighbor said he heard Mahoney yell, “Kill me!”

Flare Gun

He was taken to the hospital, where he stayed for two days, treated for an overdose of aspirin, Vicodin and amphetamines. On Aug. 4, he was transferred to the Hillmont Psychiatric Center, described as dangerous to himself, paranoid and guarded. He was put on a 72-hour hold and started on a daily dose of the antipsychotic Abilify.

Forty-five hours later, he was “remarkably better,” according to his medical records. Tara said she found him on the porch of her apartment, where he’d been dropped off. He was agitated and angry, she said. “I don’t know how they came to the conclusion that he was OK to leave.”

Cyndie Cole, the administrator of the 43-bed Hillmont Psychiatric Center, declined to comment on Mahoney’s case, citing medical privacy laws.

The day before he died, Mahoney visited a neighbor, Ben Velazquez, handing him a slip of paper with his father’s cell phone number scribbled on it. “Call him at 7 tonight,” Velasquez recalled Mahoney saying. “My body will be ready.”

The next day, Mahoney showed another neighbor, Rick Pallazuelos, a flare gun. Pallazuelos asked what he was going to do with it. “You’ll see, you’ll see,” Mahoney told him.

Irish Wake

A short time later, a motorist passing the Mahoney house called 911 to report a man “with a gun, in the street,” according to a department press release issued at the time.

Three officers were dispatched. Mahoney was inside, stepping in and out of view of the officers, who stayed outside, said Hebert, who heads the professional standards division. When they saw Mahoney point the flare gun in their direction, all three fired, Hebert said.

Mahoney was pronounced dead at the scene. His father, in the tradition of his Irish ancestry, waked his son’s body in the living room. The casket was surrounded by family photos and an Irish flag. The vigil lasted more than two weeks. “I didn’t want to let him go,” Edward Mahoney said as he began to sob.

There’s enough blame to go around, beginning with the mental-health care system, his twin sister said. ‘They should have done more, and I don’t know why they didn’t,’’ she said. “This should never have happened to my brother.”

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Down but not out in Washington County

By Saundra Sorenson, Portland Tribune, Jan. 3, 2013

James Bastin (L), withGerry Pruyn, director of Jubilee House

James Bastin (L), with Gerry Pruyn, director of Jubilee House

Asking to be identified only as Allen, the 53-year-old occasional Tualatin resident works hard to keep up appearances.

Well-coiffed, smartly dressed in a blazer over a sweater, Allen doesn’t have the look of a man who lives in his car and depends on the facilities at the Sherwood YMCA to maintain his hygiene regimen.

Once securely employed in construction, Allen was laid off more than two years ago. He has family in the area. When his unemployment benefits ran out, he moved to Arizona for six months to live with his parents and save money.

“Relatives and friends are there for you, but unfortunately they can’t give you what you need the most, because they don’t have that themselves,” he said.

Back in Oregon, Allen could find only sporadic work. He was soon living in a van donated by a local church, and now lives out of a sedan.

It is a lifestyle he describes as “playing Zorro.”

“I feel like I’m putting on a show for everybody else,” Allen said. “There’s a hidden world that you don’t want nobody to know.”

It’s a life of hyper-vigilance: Allen estimates he averages about three hours of sleep a night, and he has lost so much weight his pant size has gone from 36 to 31 inches.

Living in a car, “you’re constantly worried about that (knock) on the window,” he said, adding that Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood police have for the most part been compassionate to his plight.

For a man who grew up solidly middle-class, Allen quickly became savvy about the logistics of living out of a vehicle.

“If you have a car, if you want to feel safe and secure, you want to be in well-lit areas,” Allen explained. “You never, ever want to spend the night at a rest area off a freeway. There’s too much (illicit activity) that goes on there.”

Walmart parking lots have proven a safe bet, he said, and the lots of businesses that are open 24 hours are safest of all because there are always people present. Even with the social stigma around homelessness, you never want to be physically isolated, Allen explained.

But even living out of his car has at times proven a logistical paradox: He nearly lost his car insurance when his provider learned he didn’t have a residential address.

Allen identifies as a new kind of homeless demographic.

“People like myself, there’s a lot of them out there. You’re not going to find them because they don’t want to show themselves,” he said.

Single male majority

Single men represent 56 percent of the total homeless population in Washington County, and 39 percent of those living on the street. Without children, they are also the demographic for whom there are the fewest shelter resources available.

There is the Bridges to Change Mentor House in Hillsboro, which works with the county’s Department of Housing Services to offer a 90-day rehabilitation program geared toward both men and women recently paroled from prison. Fairhaven Recovery Home is a Christian nonprofit that offers transitional facilities for those attempting to overcome addiction.

But beds are limited for those like Allen, homeless, but with no legal or substance abuse obstacles — resources can seem scant.

Churches and faith-based organizations attempt to bridge the gap by offering seasonal shelters and warming centers. Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin offers shelter every Wednesday during winter, according to community global outreach director Faith Carter. Homeless guests are invited from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning, during which time they can access the food pantry, take hot showers and wash their clothes.

“When Washington County declares severe weather, we open every night,” Carter added.

This requires a flexible volunteer base to run the shelter: Rolling Hills aims to provide one volunteer for every five guests, and the facility can comfortably accommodate more than 20 people, Carter said.

More of its guests now own vehicles, Carter has noticed. They are in situations similar to Allen’s: Accustomed to the stable home base that comes with gainful employment, but unable to find consistent work.

“The profile of homelessness is changing — we have the working poor, they have a job, they have a car, they don’t have a place to live,” Carter said.

Allen himself came to Rolling Hills to take advantage of the Tualatin Food Pantry housed there. He said he was at first reluctant to take advantage of charity.

“I have a sense of pride. I’m Irish,” Allen said. “It was difficult to think of going to a food bank. I humbled myself.”

With the food pantry as his entry point, Allen found immense comfort in the church, he said. Having lost his apartment, savings and a relationship as a result of his homelessness, he admits he was at one point suicidal.

As county and church organizations work together to address a growing need, Allen’s has proven a success story. He began taking advantage of Rolling Hills’ weekly shelter night, and one evening found himself opening up to a shelter volunteer who he later found out was the church’s senior pastor, Bill Town.

Meanwhile, volunteers provided resume help and a strengthened network during Allen’s job search.

Homelessness and the law

Within the Tualatin Police Department, Sgt. Larry Clow is known for keeping a casual count of homeless camps throughout Tualatin. But even in the face of “the new homelessness,” Clow said, these are not organized colonies made to address a harsh economic reality.

According to Clow, most camps — like the one that exists in a ravine near Warm Springs Road, or the odd gathering under bridges — are abandoned during the day. They are primarily populated by men, he said, with a few “transient women.” Although there are no official statistics available from Tualatin police, Clow said that in his experience, the homeless individuals he finds camping within Tualatin city limits are “longtime homeless transients.”

“It’s not the person that is just down on their luck,” he said.

He describes the contributing factors to this particular homeless population as “a mixed bag” — some grapple with unaddressed mental health issues, some abuse illegal drugs and some are homeless as a lifestyle choice.

According to the 2011 One Night Homeless Count that tallied a total of 1,354 homeless countywide, individual adult men accounted for 30 percent of the county’s homeless population, versus individual adult women, who comprised 9.8 percent. Single men also made up the majority of the street-dwelling homeless population not getting access to social services, at 35 percent.

In Washington County, 189 individuals were classified as “chronically homeless,” which is defined federally as anyone who has been homeless for a year or more, or who has been homeless at least four times in the last three years. A chronically homeless individual is seen as struggling with substance abuse or addiction issues, a developmental or physical disability, mental illness or a chronic illness.

Eighty-two percent of those identified as chronically homeless in the county were adult men.

Transitional opportunities

In Tigard, the 1,600-square-foot home is indistinguishable from other single-story, ranch-style homes. For nearly four years it has housed single men who have struggled with addiction issues in the past, or who have a felony conviction in their background.

At the Jubilee Transition House, residents must have 30 days of sobriety, director Gerry Pruyn explained. “They have to do two things: They have to be appreciative of a place to stay, and want to change their lives.”

Although about 75 percent of Jubilee House’s residents have had substance abuse issues, some, like James Bastin, 22, are struggling with simply getting back on their feet after personal and financial setbacks. Bastin turned to LifeWorks NW, a mental health resource center, after returning to his native Oregon earlier this year. He was unable to find steady work, and living with his grandmother proved to be a fraught situation. No one else in his family could afford to take him in, so he left his grandmother’s home with no place to go.

Bastin stayed in Portland-area shelters for a couple days before he was referred to Jubilee House. In his first week there, he has found comfort in the house’s stability. At the shelters, he said, addiction issues were rampant and many of the adults around him were constantly under the influence. At Jubilee, he feels more able to focus on his goals of finding full-time work and an apartment of his own.

Potential residents undergo what Pruyn described as a “tight interview process,” then have a probationary first month at the house where they work closely with a manager. If both Jubilee and the individual decide the house is a good fit, Jubilee charges a monthly fee of $440 for room and board, and the resident is invited to stay for up to 18 months while he tries to secure work and permanent housing.

There is a religious aspect to this regimen too, with regular Bible study. But Pruyn said Jubilee welcomes those of all faiths, or no faith.

Jubilee’s approach is case by case. Currently, one of its residents is serving time in jail for a probation violation. Because the violation was not alcohol- or drug-related, and because Jubilee views him as committed to his goals at the house, the resident will be welcomed back to the facility upon his release, Pruyn said.

Pruyn admits Jubilee has had to revise its screening process, which has meant acknowledging the organization’s own limitations in aiding a homeless population with mental illnesses.

He hopes that within the year, Jubilee House in Tigard will have proven itself as a duplicable model — one that can serve a broader population.

“When we first started, it was basically single homeless men in the community, because there’s things for women with children, and families, but nothing for single homeless men,” Pruyn said. “In the meantime, I’ve met a lot of single homeless women who have the same type of path that the men have had, that end up on the streets here in Washington County.”

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