Proposal To Expand Portland Street Response Citywide

Photo: Ford, Brad

In late September, the Office of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty submitted a proposal for the upcoming Fall Budget Monitoring Process (Fall BMP) to add an additional $1,081,000 to the Portland Street Response (PSR) current adopted budget of $1.9 million, which would bring the total amount allocated to PSR to $2.9 million.

“Portland Street Response is not just a program – it’s a rethinking of our entire first response system: from how calls are dispatched to ensuring we send the right first responder to the right call,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who is spearheading Portland Street Response within Portland Fire & Rescue. “Yesterday we heard an independent evaluation from Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative that proved the value and success of the PSR pilot. I support PSU’s strong recommendation to expand Portland Street Response and to keep PSR housed within Portland Fire & Rescue.” 

“With Portland Street Response, we're opening new avenues of care for people who have low or no access to the healthcare system,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “And each response that provides vulnerable people with compassionate care at the moment they most need it builds a better first response system for all Portlanders.”

The full details of Commissioner Hardesty’s Fall BMP proposal can be found at this link on page 3:

You can read the full PSU 6-month evaluation of PSR online.

Tuesday’s work session with Dr. Greg Townley of PSU where he presented his evaluation and recommendations for PSR moving forward can be watched online as well. 

If passed as currently proposed, this budget amendment would allow Portland Street Response to respond citywide, 7 days per week, with the following coverage: 

  • Monday – Thursday: 8am – 6pm (3 vans available)
  • Thursday – Sunday: 6pm – 3am (3 vans available)

Under this proposal, the projected timeline for when Portland Street Response will be able to provide this coverage is Spring of 2022. This lines up with when the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) will have set up the necessary infrastructure to dispatch PSR citywide. 

This budget ask specifically requests the following full-time, limited term positions: 

  • 4 Crisis Medics*
  • 2 Mental Health Crisis Clinician I’s
  • 2 Mental Health Crisis Clinician II’s
  • 3 Community Health Workers
  • 2 Peer Support Specialists 

*The crisis medic classification is currently in the process of creation – this decision package uses the Mental Health Crisis Clinician I job classification as a placeholder for budgeting purposes only. 

“I am supportive of the Portland Street Response program and its expansion,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Yesterday’s work session highlighted the ongoing success of the program, which plays a vital role in meeting the Community Safety Division’s goal of sending the appropriate responder to emergency and non-emergency calls. I look forward to seeing Portland Street Response grow so we can serve additional community members in need of assistance.”

“Based on the findings from the six-month program evaluation, I am supportive of Commissioner Hardesty’s proposal to expand Portland Street Response citywide by March 2022,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “I am particularly encouraged by the program’s impact on reducing police response to non-emergency and behavioral health calls. The budget proposal, if passed, will allocate just over a million additional dollars this year to allow Portland Street Response to ramp up responsibly and to serve the entire Portland community.”

“The objective data and findings from Professor Greg Townley and his research team at Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative are both compelling and helpful,” said Commissioner Dan Ryan. “I have always supported the idea of Portland Street Response and am excited for what comes next. Now that we have a roadmap of substantial and meaningful data, I am thrilled to work with my colleagues to expand PSR across the city.”

“I appreciate that my colleagues have been meeting bi-weekly with the PSR team and participating in ride alongs over the last few months,” said Commissioner Hardesty. “I know my office has been very responsive to their questions, concerns, and thoughts and I look forward to our continued work together to expand Portland Street Response. My office is currently working with Mayor Wheeler’s office on an additional funding proposal as the program continues to expand.”

Under the current collective bargaining agreement between the City of Portland and the Portland Police Association, Portland Street Response is limited to 6 total vans and cannot currently respond to 911 calls involving suicide or responding inside residences. The City of Portland is in the process of good faith bargaining over these issues.

The Portland City Council is scheduled to vote on Fall BMP proposals on Wednesday, October 27th. 

Source: Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

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