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America, not just Portland is dealing with a homeless crisis. The reasons men, women and children are living on our streets are as diverse as the people themselves. The reality is no one aspires to live on the streets.
Mobile Crisis Response Teams
by Jack Kerfoot
Crisis Assistance Helping Out on The Streets (CAHOOTS) has successfully provided mobile crisis intervention in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area in Oregon for over twenty years. Tim Black, CAHOOTS Operations Coordinator was kind enough to help me understand how a mobile crisis intervention program can have a significant impact on our homeless crisis in America.
In the Eugene-Springfield area, a CAHOOTS response team is dispatched through the police-fire-ambulance communications center. Each response team consists of a mental health professional and either an emergency response technician (EMT) or a nurse. Tim told me that each member of the response team will receive over 500 hours of training prior to joining a response team.
How effective are the CAHOOTS response teams? In 2019, the Eugene-Springfield the police-fire-ambulance communications center received over 90,000 calls and dispatched a CAHOOTS response team over 10,000 times. The CAHOOTS organization has clearly earned the confidence and respect of the Eugene-Springfield the police, fire and ambulance departments.
Commissioner JoAnne Hardesty (https://twitter.com/joann4portland) has recently championed a pilot program similar to the CAHOOTS response with the Portland Fire and Rescue Department. This type of program has the potential to improve response time to people in crisis and at significantly lower cost than a conventional team from the Portland Fire and Rescue Department. I would support expanding this type of program across Portland, if this pilot program proves successful.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that homelessness in the January 2019 in the Oregon, increased by 9.7% from January 2018. If Oregon is going to effectively address our homeless crisis, then we must look at programs across the country, like CAHOOTS that have proven to be effective.
This article was reprinted with permission from Jack Kerfoot. Jack is a candidate for Portland Commissioner.
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