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:

Important milestone this Thursday

Dear Street Roots supporters,

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.

The public meeting begins at 2 p.m. Please note that public testimony is not accepted for reports.

If you haven’t yet endorsed the Portland Street Response, endorse now and your name will be included in the list presented to council on Nov. 21st.

This has been an extraordinary journey so far, and we are proud of the role played by Street Roots’ newspaper, vendors and advocacy – an effort that emerges out of our 20-year history.

Hope to see you Thursday at City Hall, and onward we go!

Kaia Sand
Executive Director, Street Roots

We Have Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the Portland Street Response logo design contest:

Ryan Mikesell Brittany Stewart Jill Domine

The contest was judged by a panel of three Street Roots vendors, one staff member from Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office and one staff member from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s office.

The top three entries were selected out of 50 entries. The City of Portland is now seeking a graphic designer to create an official logo and brand guide, inspired by these ideas.

Here are pictures of the judges, hard at work:

Community and business leaders rally around PSR

City officials, community organizations and businesses came together at City Hall on Thursday, November 14, for a press conference to affirm support for Portland Street Response.

The following speakers addressed the media:

  • Mayor Ted Wheeler
  • Commissioner Chloe Eudaly
  • Ashley Henry, Executive Director, Business for a Better Portland
  • Kina Voelz, Co-owner, Noraneko
  • Will Rasmussen, Government Relations, Executive Committee Chair, Portland Business Alliance
  • Helen Ying, Chair, Old Town Community Association
  • Adam Lyons, Executive Director, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods
  • Iden Campbell, Racial Justice and Transgender Justice Program Director, Basic Rights Oregon
  • Nick Sauvie, Executive Director, ROSE Community Development
  • Darren Golden, Policy Specialist, Urban League
  • Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

[Note some of the entries to our logo contest in the background, behind the podium. The winner will be announced Friday, Nov. 15.]

Here are links to media coverage of the event. More will be posted here as they are published;  reload this page to see any new additions.

Believe Our Stories and Listen

On September 19, 2019, the Portland Street Response Community Outreach workgroup released “Believe Our Stories & Listen,” a report from surveying 184 people experiencing homelessness to inform the design of the Portland Street Response. 

The report is a collaboration with Mapping Action Collective, Portland State University Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, Right 2 Survive, Sisters of the Road, Street Books, Street Roots and Yellow Brick Road.

Read about the survey here.

Read the report itself here.

Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Street Roots vendor Mode team up to interview people experiencing homelessness to help inform the design of the Portland Street Response pilot project. (Photo by Katalina Berbari)

Portland Street Response pilot design

A lot has happened since Street Roots put forward the Portland Street Response plan, for non-police first responders to address street crises, in our March 15 issue. 

Many of you – Street Roots readers, Street Roots vendors – wrote letters to Council, turned out at budget hearings and endorsed the plan at portlandstreetresponse.org (where you still can add your voice). I’ve been invited into conversations with neighborhood associations and faith communities and businesses and neighborhood organizations. The enthusiasm for a new, constructive system is thorough-going in this city. 

And City Council showed they heard all your voices, allotting $500,000 toward developing a Portland Street Response pilot in the budget that began July 1. 

Hardesty’s staff, in collaboration with Mayor Ted Wheeler’s staff, is charged with moving the pilot design process forward and bringing a plan to Council by this November.

Street Roots is actively advocating first and foremost for unhoused people to have a voice in this design process. (read more)

Tips for writing letters in support of Portland Street Response

  • State your name and your organization (or your neighborhood);
  • If relevant, share a little bit about your organization and your mission. Who do you serve? Or perhaps this is a time to write from the perspective of your neighborhood.

  • Why does the issue of non-police first response matter to you?
    -Is it because of the high arrests of unhoused people?
    -How legal entanglements drive people deeper into poverty, including creating barriers to housing and employment?
    -How the 911 system is bogged down with calls about non-criminal matters, including a so-called unwanted person call every 15 minutes?
    -How, as the Portland Police Bureau’s Strategic Insights Report showed, the public overwhelmingly distrusts police and is beleaguered by slow response time? 

  • Describe how the city needs to develop a Portland Street Response, a new system of first responders. Here are some possible areas to emphasize:
    – The plan proposes six teams of medics and peer support specialists with training in de-escalation who can respond with compassion to 911 calls about people struggling with homelessness and behavioral health crises. 
    -Not every crisis is a crime. We need to match the right first responder to the crisis.
    -The Portland Street Response is based on the 30-year-old CAHOOTS model in Eugene.
    -Based on discussions with Bureau of Emergency Communications, Street Roots estimates that six 24-hour-teams-of-two (a medic and a peer support specialist crisis worker) could meet our demand.
    -Portland Street Response needs to be a big effort. It’s only if people all across the city can recognize it can it be seen as an actual alternative.
    -We need to make this easy for residents of the city to feel the impact.
    -The teams must be highly trained in crisis response, and CAHOOTS can help with this training.

  • Do you have a personal story that matters to this issue?

  • Thank the Mayor and Commissioners for budgeting the pilot, and let them know this needs to be a city priority for full funding. 

  • Thank the Mayor and Commissioners for their time.

Join the campaign!

Big news! Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recommended $500,000 for Portland Street Response in his proposed city budget [read more]

Not every crisis is a crime

Endorse our plan for a new system of first responders – teams of medics and peer support specialists with training in de-escalation who can respond with compassion to 911 calls about people struggling with homelessness and behavioral health crises.


1. Read our plan


(Click or tap the image to download a PDF of our plan.)

Portland Street Response plan


2. Contact the City Council

The Mayor submitted a draft budget on May 1 that included $500,000 to develop Portland Street Response. Let’s make sure that City Council adopts this budget. Please let them know how important this is.

Here are some tips for composing a letter.

Mayor Ted Wheeler

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

Commissioner Amanda Fritz

Commissioner Nick Fish

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty


3. Share on social media

Please encourage more people to write letters and endorse the campaign on social media. #PortlandStreetResponse #NotEveryCrisisIsACrime

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT) van