Harriet Court reopens with renovated apartments for those recovering from mental health challenges

December 9, 2014

Chair Kafoury and Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare officials tour one of the units at the newly-renovated Southeast Portland independent living facility.

The baby-blue walls are hung with newly-framed images of Oregon’s high desert. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the wide halls with the grey light of a December afternoon. The place smells fresh of paint and new carpet

Behind 15 doors are efficient apartments, each the size of a hotel room and sparse. Each has a twin bed squatting on an industrial metal frame, a full-sized refrigerator, a kitchen counter and a bathroom with a new mirror and clean bathtub.

Adding flavor and decor will be a task for the tenants; all of whom are working to manage mental illness. They will move in after stays in group homes and the state psychiatric hospital where they didn’t get to choose what they ate for dinner or watched on TV.

After months of remodeling, Harriet Court now comes with a full-time manager who lives on-site; laundry facilities and a posh common space where residents can gather of leather sofas, share meals, and enjoy community events.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, in collaboration with Multnomah County’s Mental Health and Addiction Services, invested $300,000 to renovate Harriet Court, a stepping stone for residents to move toward independent living in the community.

Derald Walker, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare CEO (left) greets Chair Kafoury at the unveiling of the newly-renovated Harriet Court independent living facility.

The county’s Adult Mental Health Initiative program will fund the majority of rent subsidies for the residents.

The program provides individualized treatment plans and housing support as part of a strategy to integrate residents back into a community of their choice. But this time they’ll have the tools and skills they need to make a successful transition to independent living.

Residents will stay at Harriet Court anywhere from one to five years.

“I’m so glad these 15 people will have the opportunity to live in a place that’s safe and warm,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said at the grand re-opening Dec. 8. “Now what’s next?!”

“We’ve got ideas for more,” said Jim Hlava, Cascadia’s vice president of housing and homeless services. Gatherers laughed.

“The county has put capital into the building. It’s a huge thing,” he said. “They’re also providing rent subsidies, furniture - a bed, mattress, lamps - and the clients will get services funded through the county. This is a great time to celebrate.”