Last week, I read a piece aimed at San Franciscans by a tech blogger who was so oblivious and insensitive that I got vicariously ashamed before the end. Soon after, I read another article that restored my hope—what San Franciscans can do when they encounter homeless individuals having a crisis.
Portland’s in the middle of its own crisis—one of dwindling housing and skyrocketing rates of homelessness which has led to a state of emergency. People sleeping outside in Portland now number in the thousands.
Despite Portland’s efforts in de-escalation training and its dedicated Behavioral Health Unit, the police may still not be the best option to call when someone is experiencing a crisis. The article I mentioned earlier does a great job of explaining why calling the police is not always the right answer.
Below I’m compiling resources to use in Portland if someone you know, yourself, or someone on the street is experiencing a crisis and needs intervention right away. I intend this post to be a living document—I may update it as I learn about more resources or make corrections. (The most recent update was on 22 Feb 16 at 16:47 PST).
Right now, the best resource I know of in Portland is the Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Intervention service. They offer
- crisis counseling by phone, with translation;
- mobile crisis outreach for in-person assessment;
- referrals to low-cost and sliding-scale services;
- information on community resources; and
- a no-cost urgent walk-in clinic at 4212 SE Division St, operated by OHSU and Cascadia Health, open daily from 7 a.m to 10:30 p.m.
Their number is (503) 988-4888, available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (Their toll-free number is (800) 716-9769, and as of the time I write this, they can be texted at (503) 201-1351, a number which is monitored once a day.) Their page includes information on nearby counties as well.
Accessible through the above service is also the Multnomah County Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center (CATC) (direct number (503) 232-1099) which provides a temporary facility for people needing to stabilize from mental illness symptoms (provided by Central City Concern).
Cascadia Project Respond is a crisis service provided by Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, also available through the the Multnomah Call Center (same number as the first resource, (503) 988-4888). Project Respond also works with the Portland Police Behavioral Health Unit I mentioned before, pairing officers responding to crisis with mental health professionals in situations where 911 dispatches officers to incidents involving mental health. (I must state, from my experience, officers may not always be accompanied by mental health professionals when intervening.)
Rose City Resource offers a smattering of resources—hotline numbers and explanations of rights—targeted at homeless people, and they print these resources as a portable booklet. They’re a resource provided by Street Roots which provides jobs for homeless and indigent individuals via the local newspaper and media they provide.
If you can’t look up or remember the above resources, Oregonians always have 211 at their disposal to find resources on the fly. Call it from any phone!