The Mapping Action Collective was part of a team of community partners spread out across the city this summer to interview people experiencing homelessness to help inform the design of the Portland Street Response (PSR) pilot project lead by Street Roots. The purpose of the Portland Street Response is to reduce police responses to calls for service involving people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health crises in public spaces. The team interviewed 184 unhoused people in order to better serve them with the PSR program, which is inspired by the CAHOOTS program in Eugene. Participants formed teams of two to three, each lead by a Street Roots vendor or someone else who had experienced homelessness. Teams engaged people experiencing homelessness in discussions about what the PSR pilot should look like, including who the first responders should be, how they should approach individuals in crisis, what types of services and resources they should bring with them, and what types of training they should have. Following the interviews, responses were analyzed and summarized into this report to provide guidance for this important initiative based directly on the needs and experiences of unhoused people.
The Portland Street Response pilot program was adopted unanimously by Portland City Council this November. For the pilot, a two-person team – a medic and a crisis worker – will be dispatched through the 911 system 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Lents neighborhood. Portland Street Response will operate within the infrastructure of Portland Fire and Rescue, and the role of the medic will be filled by emergency medical services specialist Tremaine Clayton. The goal of the program is to provide expert and compassionate service for people experiencing homelessness and mental health crisis. It is in part a response to a report by the Oregonian, showing that while homeless people account for less than 3 percent of Portland’s overall population, but in 2017, they accounted for 52 percent of police arrests.
The report can be found here: https://news.streetroots.org/sites/default/files/BelieveOurStories_PortlandStreetResponseSurveyReport.pdf
The official Portland Street Response plan can be found here: https://portlandstreetresponse.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Portland-Street-Response-%C2%A9-Street-Roots.pdf