Mark White – candidate for Portland City Council, position 4

Governor Kitzhaber has endorsed a plan to build a locked psychiatric facility at Junction City. Neighbors, professionals, family members, and persons with mental illness oppose this facility. What do you say?

Mark White

Mark White

I believe there is data that shows persons with mental illness benefit from being fully integrated into the broader community. I feel this is the route in which we should continue to take and further embrace. I would suggest that the money spent on acquiring, building, and staffing such a facility could be better used to support existing support networks. I would further suggest that placement in community-based facilities and not providing the full range of services necessary for the personal success of residents not only doesn’t benefit residents, but doesn’t benefit society as a whole. We can’t do something poorly and then point to unsuccessful results and use that as a way to justify an option like a locked facility. Ultimately, it only highlights governments unwillingness to do what is right or best for persons with mental illness as well as the public, but once again choosing the more common path of government, which is doing what is easiest for them.

Homelessness has increased statewide despite millions of dollars spent on providing housing. Why? What would you do to end homelessness?

Despite herculean efforts by countless community-based organizations to support the efforts of homeless individuals to lift themselves out of poverty, elected will and funding has not been sufficient to address the root issues of homelessness. Whether that is the loss of a job, catastrophic illness, mental illness, substance abuse, or a number of other contributing factors. Unless government is willing to do what is right or best instead of what is easiest, issues such as homelessness will continue to ravage our society. The most important thing Portland City Council can do is to take a Manhattan Project approach to job creation and economic development. With all five City Council members working intensively on job creation and economic development for Portland as well as working to create robust and sustainable economic partnerships with other Oregon and SW Washington municipalities, we can infuse the state budget with much needed funding to reduce budget shortfalls. With per capita income increases we prevent foreclosures and other contributing factors to homelessness thereby reducing the numbers of folks in need of these services. This reduction of need and the subsequent increase in funding from fully funded state programs will allow us to focus on those with the greatest need and to strategically and intentionally address the underlying causes of their homelessness.

See – Mark White for City Commissioner
Read – Street Roots Candidate interview: Mark White

On January 27 the Mental Health Association of Portland sent questions to all Oregon political candidates. This is one response. This post is not a political endorsement but an opportunity to speak out about mental illness. Minor changes may have been made to the text for clarity.