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.
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.
OREGONLIVE.com / 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This Thursday, Nov. 21, the Mayor and Commissioners will receive a 90-minute report detailing the work and progress that has gone into developing the Portland Street Response. Should they vote to accept the report and recommendations, a Portland Street Response pilot can hit the ground in January.
This is an important milestone! Let’s pack City Hall to show council that we need the right response to the right call at the right time. We need a modern 1st responder system that responds with compassion to those in crisis.
Portland Street Response needs a logo. In our survey of 184 unhoused people this past summer, many respondents emphasized that Portland Street Responders should have colored shirts and/or uniforms that are clearly distinguished from other first responders. So a new look is essential to gaining trust and de-escalating crisis situations.
In order to tap into the creativity of Portlanders, housed and unhoused alike, we are asking for your ideas of a logo design. Send us your suggestion and if it is selected by our judges, you will win a cash prize! This logo contest starts, Friday Oct. 25 and ends Monday Nov. 11. The winners will be announced in the Friday, Nov. 15, edition of Street Roots.
There is an entry form with more information on the back page of the Oct. 25-31 issue of Street Roots. You can also download a PDF of the entry form from here.
Read more from Street Roots Executive Director Kaia Sand about the logo design contest here.