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A Clubhouse that changes lives

Lunch at NorthStar Clubhouse is more than just a meal.

On a recent summer afternoon, nearly 30 members gather at round tables in the club’s Northeast Portland headquarters, a place where people living with mental illness can find support and friendship. The aroma of warm rice and beans fills the air. With help from the group’s nutrition specialist, a handful of members prepare organic vegetables, salad ingredients and homemade vinaigrettes.

The group pauses their lunch to welcome Chair Deborah Kafoury. One by one, members tell Kafoury why NorthStar matters.

“This place is somewhere where we can grow,” a man named Matt says. “We can grow as people and make courageous decisions in our treatment, empower ourselves and also empower those around us.”

Beyond providing community for people living with mental illness, NorthStar Clubhouse offers housing and employment services, peer support, and access to medical and psychiatric services. Members and staff work together to manage clubhouse operations, including a resale shop. Multnomah County helps fund NorthStar, a non-residential, peer-focused recovery program, to deliver mental health services to the community. [Read more]

‘It will take all of us’: Commissioner Vega Pederson rallies local organizations, policy makers at Community Energy Justice Summit

How do we transition to renewable energy in a way that is just and equitable to historically oppressed people?

That question was at the heart of the Community Energy Justice Summit, a recent three-day workshop for frontline community organizations and policy makers sponsored by Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.

Last year, Commissioner Vega Pederson and Chair Deborah Kafoury co-sponsored a resolution between Multnomah County and the city of Portland to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The resolution calls for at least 2 percent of the renewable energy used by our community to come from “community-based resources.’’

Earlier this year, Commissioner Vega Pederson committed $15,000 for an environmental justice summit to address questions around community-based resources and how to achieve that goal.

The event, held at Portland Community College’s Southeast campus, was organized by community-based organizations — including the Coalition of Communities of Color, Verde, OPAL Environmental Justice, APANO, NAYA, and IRCO/Africa House — and the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability and the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. [Read more]

County, Portland and Oregon partner for first-of-its-kind supportive housing project

A first-of-its-kind funding partnership between the state of Oregon, Multnomah County and the city of Portland, announced July 27, will foster new models of supportive housing and build on the community’s ongoing response to chronic homelessness.

The Portland Housing Bureau (PHB), together with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Multnomah County Mental Health & Addiction Services, and Oregon Housing and Community Services, are offering $12 million for proposals that not only combine housing and mental health services but also keep costs down by embracing the efficiency of single-room-occupancy housing.

People experiencing mental health disabilities are the fastest growing segment of the population experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County. PHB’s Notice of Funding Availability calls on the development community and service providers for housing proposals that find cost efficiencies, demonstrate innovative designs, and integrate support services in projects focused on homeless individuals experiencing mental illness. [Read more]

VIDEO: An introduction to the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge Project
Join the Burnside Bridge Community Task Force

Multnomah County is recruiting volunteers to serve on a Community Task Force, an advisory group that will provide guidance and recommendations at key decision points during the environmental review of the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge Project. An important aspect of this project is to make sure we are hearing from a diverse range of stakeholders who reflect our community values.

Community Task Force members will be asked to serve during the three-year environmental review, from fall 2018 to fall 2021. This phase will lead to the selection of a preferred alternative for a crossing that can withstand a major earthquake.

Meetings will be held on a weekday evening and may occur monthly or every other month. Meetings will be in a central location convenient to transit. Dinner will be provided.

Multnomah County is seeking a diverse group of volunteers who use the Burnside Bridge and will depend on it during a major earthquake.

Interested in serving? Applications are being received through Friday, August 17, 2018. Visit to complete an online application.

Multnomah County hosts its first Youth Mentor Gathering

Multnomah County hosted its first ever Youth Mentor Gathering in Old Town earlier this summer.

The event included a panel of mentees, mentors and public safety leaders, including Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw and District Attorney Rod Underhill. It served as a networking forum and opportunity to shine a light on the impact of mentors, particularly for youth whose lives intersect with the criminal justice system.

The gathering was part of a broader effort to address and prevent youth violence in the community. Culturally specific mentors have been identified, by youths themselves, as playing an essential role in guiding at-risk young people onto a positive path.

Elected leaders, members of government organizations, community service providers, advocacy organizations as well as members of the general public showed up to support mentors and to hear feedback.  

“Most of us don’t know where we’re going in life,” explained 18-year-old panelist LeeAnn Montgomery. “And many of us are going down a dangerous path. I’m 18, I just graduated, but I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it to 18 and I wouldn’t have, unless I had mentors who said, ‘Take this street, take this job…’”

Panelists — who also participate in the Community Healing Initiative (CHI), a collaboration among Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice, Latino Network and Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC) — shared personal stories about the positive impact of mentors. [Read more]

Commissioners pledge to strengthen mental health system following release of report

Multnomah County unveiled a new report on its mental health system, finding the County has many elements of a modern system that incorporates evidence-based practices, offers peer support, and provides trauma-informed and culturally responsive services.

But the Multnomah County Mental Health System Analysis also finds a disconnect between the system’s mission and the way many stakeholders experience the system.

“We can act locally to make an impact on this system, especially now,’’ said Commissioner Dr. Sharon Meieran, who led the County to contract with Human Services Research Institute to analyze the mental health care system in Multnomah County.

“I am firmly committed to working with the community, institutional and organizational partners, advocates, and others to develop and act on a true, shared, person-centered, holistic vision for how we can be providing mental health care in our community.”

Recommendations include:

  • Working with service users, families and other stakeholders to develop a vision and action plan for an improved system.
  • Elevating the role of lived experience in County leadership by establishing a director-level position in the Health Department staffed by a person with lived experience in the mental health system.
  • Conducting further analysis of data and funding streams to identify opportunities for expanding capacity and making other improvements.

[Read more]

Multnomah County bans traveling displays of wild and exotic animals

The Multnomah County Board adopted an ordinance this summer prohibiting traveling animal displays that include wild or exotic animals for live public entertainment or amusement in the County.

The ordinance amends existing Multnomah County code that already prohibits ownership of exotic animals in the county. It goes a step further by establishing that those who want to bring wild or exotic animals to this area for purposes of live display and entertainment, such as performing tricks, are clearly prohibited from doing so -- whether or not a fee is charged.

The change includes animal displays in acts like carnivals, fairs, festivals and circuses such as the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The ordinance makes exemptions for the employees or contractors of a filmmaker (as defined in ORS Title 26A Chapter 284.368) for the purposes of producing a film (as defined in ORS Title 26A Chapter 284.368).

The ordinance clearly defines the specific wild or exotic animals, grouped by genus, that are prohibited under this amendment. These animals include crocodiles, alligators, hippos, giraffes, camels, sharks, elephants, big cats such as lions and tigers, hyenas, kangaroos, primates such as apes and monkeys, rhinos, zebras, seals, walruses, ostriches, and bears.

The ban excludes domestic animals and livestock such as horses, mules, donkeys, alpacas, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, domestic cats and reptiles.  [Read more]

Multnomah County
501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214

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Multnomah County · 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd. · Portland, Or 97214 · USA

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