Recovery center says Oregon’s controversial Measure 110 is step in right direction

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:00 PM PST
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GRESHAM Ore. (KPTV) - A recovery center in Gresham is soon expanding its services to offer those seeking help a warm bed for the night and it’s thanks to Measure 110 funds. Club Hope is a recovery drop-in center during the day that offers free services for all stages of recovery. With Measure 110 funds, it will soon open 26 low-barrier beds.

“This is an amazing organization that is out there helping folks get off the streets, get clean, and get your life back,” said Dawn Marks, the Recovery Access Center Program Manager. “Recovery Access Center will start in March, which is our beds. It’s something we are really excited to offer the community. We are going to be able to work with other community partners and gather information from those folks, bring other folks in that are struggling with addiction and houselessness and get them set up to do treatment, detox, whatever that looks like for them. We are meeting them where they are. You don’t have to be stuck.”

On Monday, Marks gave us a tour of what will soon be the men’s and women’s dorms.

“This way they’ve been safe all night,” said Marks. “They haven’t had to be out all night or using. When I was out there, there were no options like this. There were no warm beds.”

“When access to care funds came out originally over a year and a half ago from M110 it actually saved this building,” said Monta Knudson, CEO of Bridges to Change. “We had it for another program that closed down. The Access to Care funds actually gave us an opportunity to secure the building, secure our lease, and plan for launching in March the Recovery Access Center.”

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While an audit released from the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month states it’s too soon to tell if Measure 110 will be successful, Knudson says the audit doesn’t tell the full story.

“I think for the audit, what really hit for us providers is that it sounded like it said that there was no data available to collect,” said Knudson. “For us, we had been collecting and providing data to the Oregon Health Authority around what populations were served, how many people were housed, all the different types of data we were required to collect. We did pass it on to OHA. What was challenging with the audit is that it didn’t say anything about what the providers had done, it just said there was no data collected because the kind of data they were looking for they didn’t find with the Oregon Health Authority. That hit providers hard because we were out here really working to make a difference, and when we read that audit, it made us feel like we weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing out here.”

Knudson believes passing Measure 110 was a step in the right direction towards fixing a failing system.

“What people need to realize is that the whole system stopped and failed because of COVID, because of 50 years of disinvestment into addiction services,” said Knudson. “I think what’s important to keep in mind and what people don’t often realize is prior to COVID in 2020, nonprofits, like mine, all around the state of Oregon were already understaffed and underfunded. We were just trying to keep as many people served as possible. There were waitlists and you could be on a waitlist for residential treatment for over a month at a time. When COVID hit, it completely stopped our system and it stopped for quite a long time. We opened up telehealth just like other organizations but our houseless folks were not accessing care through that mechanism. What people need to realize is that the whole system stopped and failed because of COVID, because of 50 years of disinvestment into addiction services. So what we are seeing and have seen is the continued need to open up immediate access to care. What that means is when someone shows up at the door, they don’t get told to come back next week or even tomorrow. People need access right now. They need rapid access to care. So we are seeing that from the treatment level to the detox level to the housing level to the peer-services level and to the harm-reduction level. I know there have been a lot of hurdles along the way and there are going to be more, but we see hope in this process. Changing a system is hard. It takes time and dedication and we are here for that.”

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With funding from Measure 110, Bridges to Change will be able to add over 200 new housing beds in several counties as well as hire additional staff to continue its mission in the community.

“It’s going to allow people to come in with no barriers,” said Knudson. “We want to meet people right where they are at. We want to keep people alive, we want to make services accessible, that’s what our 26 beds are going to do. They are 14-day quick access beds so our team can work with them to get them to other places, we can work to get them into treatment, we can get them harm reduction services. Being able to provide them that quick turnaround housing for our community along with services is going to be imperative to addressing the needs out there.”