San Francisco has a new initiative to take police out of the homelessness response

Excerpts from The Guardian, Thu 29 Apr 2021 11.00 EDT:

Community leaders developed a proposal that would reroute all calls regarding homeless issues to the Compassionate Alternate Response Team (CART), highly trained civilians tasked with de-escalation and conflict resolution through each situation.

Proponents of CART estimate that the team would cost San Francisco $6.8m a year. The Board of Supervisors has already approved $2m. The other $4.8m would come from the police department’s budget.

Read the full article here.

Demand that the police union release its grip on Portland Street Response

Write city council members and the Portland Police Association (PPA) demanding that PPA cede any claims on Portland Street Response labor. This is not police work.

We need to make these demands because the pilot program for Portland Street Response only launched after the police union allowed it, declaring last year that it “retains its collective bargaining rights over any implementation of the Portland Street Response program beyond the pilot program.”

Send letters or make calls to make these demands clear. Please let both PPA and City Council know that our community overwhelmingly supports the Portland Street Response approach, and that our community’s well-being should never be a bargaining chip. Now the PPA is in contract negotiations, the city must hold firm to its authority over the future of PSR.

Additionally, Portland Street Response must not be used as another bargaining chip for PPA. Unite Oregon is helping lead a campaign to ensure other items favored by the community, such as the new system for oversight that voters approved, are not negotiated away. Read about it here.

Contact information for the police union:

Portland Police Association

Contact information for City Council:

Mayor Ted Wheeler

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

Commissioner Mingus Mapps

Commissioner Carmen Rubio

Commissioner Dan Ryan

Survey of Portland voters shows stunning support for non-police first responders to street crises

Street Roots commissioned a survey with McKelvey Consulting to assess the public perceptions around crises response in the Portland metro area. More than 400 random registered Portland voters consented to the survey via a text-enabled phone number. The survey was conducted March 9 and 10, with a 67% response rate. Of the respondents, more than 10% identified as a person of color. Respondents were asked a series of questions on their preferences between police and non-police responses, and who were best equipped to respond to situations of crisis.

Here are some questions and responses, which show an overwhelming support for programs like Portland Street Response:

87% think non-police 1st responders are better trained to deal with street crises
86.4% think non-police 1st responders are better trained to deal with a wellness check
80.4% do NOT think Portland Police are the best equipped to deal with people having a mental health crisis
61.1% do NOT think Portland Police have a positive impact on homelessness in their neighborhood

The city launched the Portland Street Response program on February 16. It is in a pilot phase, limited to the Lents neighborhood. We want to see the pilot completed, and the program expanded.

At long last, the gears are turning…

The city’s Portland Street Response program is finally real! They have staff, staff is going through training, pilot coverage area and times have been named, and there is a timeline for the next phases! There is even an official City website for the program — click on the button in our banner to visit them and find out more.

Screen capture of the City's PSR website

Thank you to all who have supported Street Roots’ advocacy — you all helped us get this far. We have received endorsements from:

  • 11 current or former elected officials, from city to local to state level;
  • 63 organizations;
  • 13 faith communities;
  • 27 businesses; and
  • 810 individuals.

Going forward, we will maintain this website to continue advocating for the City to see this program through as well as possible.

Read Kaia Sand’s editorial in Street Roots, “Portland Street Response pilot should explore more options”.

City Hall considering cuts to PSR

Please contact Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Ryan and Commissioner Fritz and ask them to prioritize funding for Portland Street Response rather than police in the budget discussions taking place tomorrow.

Here are excerpts from Kaia Sand’s editorial in this week’s edition of Street Roots:

Mayor Ted Wheeler is protecting the police budget while cutting a portion of the Portland Street Response budget.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has already said she’s voting for Hardesty’s proposal to trim PPB further. It’s time to put pressure on Wheeler, Commissioner Dan Ryan and Commissioner Amanda Fritz to support the change as well, in the interest of public safety.

Please vote!

Election Day is November 3rd.  Don’t forget to vote. You can drop off your ballot at any of the Official Ballot Drop Sites.

Here is a graph of voter turnouts for Multnomah County, compared to the last Presidential Election in 2016.  This graph will be updated daily until Election Day.

Graph last updated Sat. Nov. 7, 2020 at 10:45am. “Days before Election Day” include weekends, not just working days.

Source:  Multnomah County Elections Division, Voter Turnout – November 2020 Election and November 2016 Election.

Sen. Wyden (D-OR) proposes CAHOOTS Act

CAHOOTS van with rainbow
CAHOOTS van. Photo courtesy of White Bird Clinic.

Senator Ron Wyden has proposed a national alternative to using police as first responders to mental health crises. The CAHOOTS Act is modeled after Eugene’s eponymous program, operated by the White Bird Clinic. CAHOOTS is also the inspiration for Portland Street Response. The nation-wide program would provide 95% Medicaid match for local municipalities that implement such a program. / The Oregonian reports that

Cahoots fields about 20% of all calls to 911 and the non-emergency line in the greater Eugene area.

In 2018, of the 22,000 calls that Cahoots responded to, less than 150 led to Cahoots requesting police for backup.

Program leaders estimate it saves $7 million annually in medical costs because the so many of the people the non-police teams help would otherwise end up in emergency rooms.

Read OREGONLIVE’s  full article here.

Read Senator Wyden’s statement here.  There are links to a summary of the bill and the complete legislative text at the end of his statement.


Commissioner Hardesty discusses PSR on Rep. Blumenauer’s virtual town hall meeting

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer held a virtual town hall meeting with special guests U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty this afternoon at 4 p.m.  In a wide-ranging and lively conversation, many subjects were discussed, including the current protests against police violence and systemic racism. Listen to Commissioner Hardesty discussing Portland Street Response in the context of police reforms and reimagining public safety in the following Youtube video starting at 35:32.



TAKE ACTION! Petition City Council to increase funding for Portland Street Response

UPDATE  Jun 18: City Council approved the budget yesterday, including $4.8 million for Portland Street Response. Thank you to all who contacted City Council in our support!

News coverage of the vote:

Final statements from Commissioners before the vote:

Dear Street Roots community,

In our streets and across the nation, people are demanding that cities dismantle unjust police power. Here in Portland, timing is on our side to demand bold action because city council is set to vote on the proposed city budget this Wednesday (June 10th).

A few weeks ago, it was likely that we’d see the $246.2 million police budget roll forward.  But thanks to courageous demonstrators, the conversation has shifted.

We need you to take action and tell Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners Eudaly, Fritz and Hardesty that we need the budget to support a just vision of public safety.

Today, tomorrow and Tuesday, please ask them to fund Portland Street Response to move us away from police-based solutions.  

As is, city council is set to roll forward the one-time funding for a single pilot. But now is the time in which we demand that the city designate ongoing funds so multiple pilots can simultaneously run across the city – not just in one neighborhood – transforming into a city-wide program. We need to speed this up.  

In addition, Street Roots joins voices across the city to defund police programs that that perpetuate racist and militarized police practices. It is time to shut down the Gun Violence Reduction Team, the renamed Gang Enforcement program, which city auditors showed severely over-policed Black Portlanders. Here is a list of demands from Unite Oregon and Portland African American Leadership Forum.

Please make your voices heard with city council over the next few days. Let’s get loud …  and fund what moves us toward a more just city.

Kaia Sand
Executive Director

Contact information for your city council:

Mayor Ted Wheeler

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

Commissioner Amanda Fritz

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

Suggested email text:

Subject: Please increase funding for Portland Street Response

Please increase funding for Portland Street Response in the proposed budget that will be voted on this Wednesday, June 10th. In our streets and across the nation, people are demanding that cities support a just vision of public safety. PSR is a great first step to move us away from police-based solutions. Please designate 4.8 million dollars in on-going funds so multiple PSR pilots can simultaneously run across the city – not just in one neighborhood. We need to speed this up.


We did it!

View this overview video of Portland Street Response, presented to City Council today

Dear Street Roots supporters,

I am so happy to share with all of you that a pilot version of the Portland Street Response was approved by Portland city council this afternoon! From the moment Street Roots presented the plan in our March 15 issue, we’ve been committed to seeing this happen. Street Roots vendors have been involved the entire campaign: speaking at a budget forum, surveying other unhoused people, and even judging the Portland Street Response logo contest.

Today was a very big day. After more than a century, Portland is making a significant change to our first responder system. Portland Street Response is proposed as a third branch of our city’s first responder system, joining fire and police.

The pilot team will be composed of a medic and a crisis worker, dispatched by 911 in the Lents Neighborhood beginning this spring, and over the course of about the year, the city can refine the plan.

This video, presented to council today, gives an overview of Portland Street Response.

Thank you, everyone, for endorsing (there’s still time to add your name; we’ll soon be gearing up to campaign for the full-fledged Portland Street Response program to be implemented, big enough, and nimble enough, to really help unhoused people in crisis).

And if you would like to contribute to our ongoing efforts, that bolsters our ongoing advocacy to better the lives of people who are unhoused, such as our work on the Portland Street Response.

Today we celebrate. Tomorrow, onward we go … together!

Kaia Sand
Executive Director, Street Roots


More information:

Pictures from the Council meeting: