Dear friends and neighbors,
We are all aware of the devastating impact mental illness and addiction can play in a person’s life. And though we may not have had to personally work through treatment and recovery, most of us have family members, friends, or acquaintances who have.
Decades of research and advocacy have taught us that mental health and substance use disorders are complex health conditions that are not simply moral failings. Addiction is a powerful disease and can be a terrifying reality.
But one thing we know for certain is that people can, and do, recover. And while the first step to recovery can be tough, success is built upon a community of people willing to lend a helping hand. For Multnomah County, that means ensuring people who otherwise wouldn’t, have access to help.
This September is the 30th Anniversary of National Recovery Month. For many years, Multnomah County has celebrated Recovery Month by lifting the voices of those in recovery and recognizing the people who have dedicated their lives to prevention and treatment.
This year’s theme, Join the Voices of Recovery: Together We Are Stronger, reminds us that responding to addiction and mental illness requires community effort and the coordination of a whole system of caring people and professional. This includes friends, family, peers, mentors, treatment providers, clinicians, and social workers.
We know that to make this a reality, there needs to be sufficient investments. That’s why we continue to work with our partners at the State Legislature to increase funding for the local community mental health system. In the most recent session, we successfully advocated for increased resources to prevent people from going to the Oregon State Hospital, increased pay for addiction treatment workers, and more money to divert people with behavioral health issues out of the criminal justice system.
And in the spring of 2021, the County is planning on opening a critical new investment: our Downtown Behavioral Resource Center. The Center will prioritize services for people suffering from addiction or mental illness and experiencing homelessness. It will help individuals in need by offering access to counseling and peer support, in addition to basic necessities like housing, showers and meals.
These efforts would not be possible without the strength and resiliency of people in recovery. Their inspirational stories remind us of what’s possible when a community comes together to solve some of our most difficult problems.
For more information and resources on recovery, please visit our addiction services webpage
Quest Center and Bridges to Change open region’s first recovery housing for LGBT, HIV+ residents
The two-story tudor has a sunny yellow kitchen and a manicured lawn. Sprouts of broccoli, radish and Walla Walla onions peek out of pots along the steps. The backyard is tidy, with a circle of chairs and an ashtray, and raised beds where collards, chard and lacinato kale elbow for space.
Neighbors brought a pie when the new tenants moved in. They ran over to help when a water pipe broke. And they share their gardening tools.
It doesn’t matter that the tenants in this Laurelhurst home moved in to get clean and sober. It doesn’t matter that they are gay, transgender or nonbinary, or that they may have HIV.
The house, with nine beds and a live-in recovery mentor, opened this spring as Oregon’s first sober housing focused on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, prioritizing transgender and non-binary individuals.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer says federal government must join local leaders like Chair Deborah Kafoury in homelessness fight
Chair Deborah Kafoury joined U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer last week as he shared a new housing report detailing decades of federal disinvestment and racial discrimination — alongside strategies, policies and investments meant to reverse those ills.
Blumenauer’s report, called “Locked Out: Reversing Federal Housing Failures and Unlocking Opportunity,” lays out a series of policy shifts that would tackle housing affordability and homelessness from all sides.
It calls for historic increases in public housing investments and construction, federal incentives for state rent caps, and more tax credits to boost the private construction of affordable apartments.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden proposes federal tax on e-cigarettes
Sen. Ron Wyden announced he will draft federal legislation to tax e-cigarette products containing nicotine the same as traditional cigarettes. The current federal cigarette tax is about $1 for a pack of 20, and his proposed e-cigarette tax would apply at an equivalent rate based on nicotine content.
“These products are highly addictive,” he said during an event at the Multnomah County Health Department headquarters. “They are subject to minimal safety standards and oversight, exposing users to dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde. And they are getting into the hands of more and more young people.”
He made the announcement at Multnomah County, which, under Chair Deborah Kafoury, has aggressively worked to keep e-cigarettes from being sold to minors, to treat vaping indoors like smoking indoors, and in licensing retailers to assure those rules are followed.
With heavy hearts, Board approves deep cuts to public safety
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has reluctantly approved $2.6 million in cuts to public safety after a significant reduction in funding from the Legislature.
Cuts to the County’s Department of Community Justice will result in the loss of more than 19 positions including corrections counselors, parole and probation officers, managers and executive staff and the elimination of the department’s Change Center, a cognitive behavioral therapy program for people on supervision.
The Legislative reductions also impact the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, but the Board voted Thursday to use emergency contingency funds through March 15 to avoid the immediate closure of a jail dorm.
“I believe it would be irresponsible to close a jail dorm immediately,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said during Thursday’s board meeting. “Closing a dorm would put the system into crisis. More thoughtful planning needs to happen.”