Multnomah County unveils massive new facility to address homelessness, mental health

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:40 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Multnomah County’s Behavioral Health Resource Center is being touted as the first facility of its kind in the area to help those experiencing homelessness while addressing mental health or drug addiction.

According to a county spokesperson, the county purchased 333 SW Park Ave. in 2019 for $4.3 million, and a parking lot next door for $1.5 million.

The same spokesperson said local, state, and federal funds will cover the operating cost, set to be around $7.5 million for this fiscal year, and estimated to be around $9.5 million the following year.

Those who have benefitted from these kinds of services say this kind of public investment saves lives.

Deandre Kenyanjui turned his life around after finding support through the county, and has had an important role now as a county staff member, helping set up the Behavioral Health Resource Center, and will work one on one with those who come to get help.

“Years ago, I experienced houselessness, substance use disorder at some point in time in my life, and I found someone with lived experiences who had been exactly where I had been,” said Kanyanjui.

Those lived experiences of overcoming homelessness, mental health issues, or addiction, Kenyanjui says, are an important part when working with those seeking help so that they feel comfortable, and ready to change their lives for the better.

“There’s hope in people like me and others who recover and can help build facilities like this.”

According to the Multnomah County’s website, the first two floors of the facility will be made up of day-use areas that can welcome up to 150 people. Restrooms, showers, rest areas, and meals will be provided, as well as access to county resources. Another floor features a 33-bed mental health shelter and another floor with 19 beds for transitional housing. Multnomah County’s Health Department director says she expects many to use the new building, but all will get help even on days when it’s at capacity.

“We will have that ability to be able to kind of help triage an individual to another place where they can get a level of their needs met,” said Director Ebony Clarke. “We imagine that this is going to be a high-demand resource.

The day-use area is expected to open in early December, and the shelter areas will open in Spring 2023.