October 29, 2021

Commissioners this week approved a supplemental budget for the Behavioral Health Resource Center, allocating $13.7 million from General Fund contingency to the BHRC Capital Fund and appropriating the total remaining project budget, $24 million, within fiscal year 2022.

It’s the latest step in a project that began in 2019, when the County purchased the four-story former department store at 333 SW Park and a small adjoining parking lot for $5.84 million. That fall the Board ​​approved preliminary plans for a first-of-its-kind behavioral health resource center, offering respite for people experiencing mental illness and  homelessness downtown, providing laundry and showers, food, peer-led resources, and shelter and transitional housing.

Last year the Portland Design Commission approved the designs for the new Center, and in May the Board of County Commissioners cleared construction to start on the project.

The Behavioral Health Resource Center is slated to open in 2022, with a total project budget of about $26 million. The County has spent about $2.2 million so far on design and construction.

The County identified $18.9 million in general funds for the project while seeking additional funding from regional and state partners. Then this year, the State committed an additional $10 million in lottery bonds. But the County won’t receive that $10 million until the spring of 2023, Chief Financial Officer Eric Arrellano told the Board Thursday. 

“So the project will be hopefully complete by that time,” he said. “Based on this breakdown there will be a cash flow gap.”  

To finance the outstanding $24 million in project costs, the County will draw $2.9 million from the BHRC Capital Fund and $13.7 million from General Fund Contingency. The County will seek, when it becomes necessary, an intergovernmental loan to bridge the remaining $7 million delta, which it will repay once the state can issue its bonds.

“We don’t anticipate having to do that until the spring of 2022,” Arellano said, and that will require a separate Board action. “We are seeking additional funding sources for this project,” he said. “If we are able to get additional funding, we will let you know and adjust our funding plan.”

“Let’s go build a Behavioral Health Resource Center,” said Commissioner Lori Stegmann. “Well done team!”

The latest Board action comes a week after commissioners toured the construction site and spoke with Behavioral Health leadership about program structure, timelines and procurement and the trauma-informed elements of design including including lighting, acoustics, flexibly used spaces, dignity, access and calming environment and nature.

“The opportunity was so great to see it in person and with our legislators,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran.