On a recent Tuesday afternoon, dozens of people toured and milled about the Stabilization for Treatment Program transitional housing center in Portland for the first time. The new program was designed specifically for men with mental health issues who have been involved with the criminal justice system in Multnomah County.
The center, which sits on Northwest 5th Avenue and Glisan Street in Old Town/Chinatown, will house up to 16 men at a time. It will act as an intermediate place for men to have a safe, clean and stable place to live while they receive care and support before transitioning into a more permanent place such as a long-term rehabilitation center.
Men can come from a variety of places to the center. Clients can be referred by the Department of Community Justice parole and probation officers or by the Multnomah Mental Health Court.
Commissioner Judy Shiprack was among several stakeholders who supported the plan, which was roughly a year in the making.
“We are talking about the safety of people in our community,” Commissioner Shiprack said. “We’re talking about a recovery model that says you don’t have to swirl in this very expensive system...we are building a ramp up to a better place for you.”
A variety of partners collaborated to make the center possible, including officials from Multnomah County, the cities of Portland and Gresham, Central City Concern and more. Marc Jolin, initiative director for A Home for Everyone, also spoke at Tuesday's event. “At the most fundamental level, this is going to be safety off the streets for people who desperately need it,” Jolin said of the center.
A Home for Everyone is a collaborative between the county, the City of Portland, the City of Gresham, Home Forward, local nonprofits and members of the public that focuses on making smart investments to aid those who are homeless.
Jolin made it clear that there was still much to be done, despite the victory that the Stabilization house stands for. “This is a call to action for us as a community,” he said. “If we are going to have facilities like this, and we should, in order for this to work, in order for every shelter in our community to work, we have to have a permanent option on the other end for folks.”
Jackie Stedman, who is a peer support specialist that will be working on site, said that the program allows for social workers to meet the clients at whatever place they are in their recovery. “I get to be a small part of something so big,” said Stedman, who personally has been nine years sober from substance abuse.
“A lot matters when you meet people where they’re at,” she said.
Clients will begin moving into the facility the week of July 13. Due to the limited space and high demand, officials expect the shelter to be filled most of the time.
As a new program, it will face the challenges of long-term funding and outcomes. Yet, many remain hopeful.
“I think that we are all beginning to behave a lot more sanely, let’s face it,” Shiprack said. “We have been scurrying around, repeating our same mistakes over and over and over again as if we are not capable of learning from them. This is a fine example of taking it to the next level, right here.”