Multnomah County announces investments in Behavioral Health Emergency Coordinating Network (BHECN)

October 10, 2023

Initial specific investments include funding for a 24/7 stabilization center, sobering beds, stabilization and transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.

Multnomah County, Ore. (Oct. 10, 2023) — After last week’s final meeting of the Behavioral Health Emergency Coordinating Network’s (BHECN) executive committee and the work of the Board of County Commissioners to finalize the recent package to spend unanticipated Supportive Housing Services (SHS) dollars, Multnomah County has begun to pivot the BHECN work to implementation. 

The unanticipated SHS funding, combined with the County’s BHECN set aside funds will help the County’s behavioral health system across a number of areas, with funding in stabilization, transitional housing and several types of recovery housing.

“These investments are critical as we respond to this crisis. Funding this stabilization center is in alignment with additional sobering beds our partners are bringing online in the coming months –  beds that will exceed what we lost at CCC’s Sobering Station,” said Chair Vega Pederson. “The stabilization center will help people transition from sobering out of hospitals, and additional funding will enable people to move into transitional and recovery housing – helping people along the full continuum of their journey towards recovery and stability.”

“These investments represent a downpayment on a long-term plan to improve the lives of persons experiencing substance use and mental health crises,” said Julie Dodge, former interim Director of Behavioral Health and now Consultant to the County. “The BHECN network will continue with the Behavioral Health Division working in collaboration with our consumers and community partners.”

“Central City Concern is very excited to see this package of needed investments receive funding,” said Andy Mendenhall MD, President and CEO of Central City Concern. “We support Chair Vega-Pederson’s vision and direction for these programs and the broader commitment from the majority of the Multnomah County Board to support this plan.”

The BHECN charter is clear around the investments the County and its partners are making: a focus on building a stabilization center. The first investment will allow people to be moved from crisis into care and onto stability, both immediately and longer term. The specific investments in behavioral health services and allocation strategies moving forward are as follows:

#1: 24/7 Stabilization center

Description: A 20+ bed, 24/7, 30-90 day stabilization unit, specifically for individuals leaving withdrawal management or sobering services. Referrals will come from the sobering beds at Providence and Unity, Hooper Detox, Fora and Recovery Works NW with the intention of creating more efficiency in the County’s emergency sobering and detox capacity, and drastically increasing connection to stable housing. State Licensure will be sought appropriate to the level of services offered.

Services: Substance use and mental health treatment and stabilization services

  • Individual and/or group meetings and/or activities with counselors and/or peers
  • Individual, group and family wellness and recovery services
  • Pharmacologic services, including medication supported recovery
  • Skill-building and recreation
  • Therapy, e.g. motivational interviewing, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, etc.
  • Coordinated community planning for smooth transitions to on-going services and support
  • Care coordination

Funding Amount: $6.85M (One-Time Only SHS funds), plus $1.4M (on-going BHECN funds)

Allocation Strategy: A solicitation will go out to providers qualified through the BHECN request for pre-qualification (RFPQ) and other qualifying procurements before the end of the calendar year 2023. 

#2: Crisis Services / Sobering

Description: Eight sobering beds, plus $150k for design, planning and project development funding. 

Funding Amount: $150K (One-Time Only)

Allocation Strategy: The Chair directed Commissioner Brim-Edwards to lead this effort in collaboration with the Behavioral Health division’s (BHD) crisis services, the City of Portland, and in alignment with OHA’s 988/Crisis Now work at the state.

#3: Stabilization and transitional housing

Description: Two adjacent housing programs in Gresham: one short-term (14 days) stabilization housing for 10 to 12 people, and one longer-term (four to six months) transitional housing for 10 to 12 people.  

Services: Substance use and mental health stabilization and transitional housing services

Funding Amount: $1.2M (One-Time Only)

Allocation Strategy: BHD existing contract

#4: Recovery oriented housing: permanent supportive housing (with regional long-term rent assistance)

Description: 25 regional long-term rent assistance vouchers and support services for assertive community treatment and intensive case management teams to support individuals with dual diagnoses in mental health and substance use disorder with permanent supportive housing.

Funding Amount: $750,000 (on-going)

Allocation Strategy: Expansion of existing programs between the Joint Office of Homeless Services and BHD.

#5: Recovery oriented housing: recovery oriented transitional housing

Description: Flexible rent assistance for projects for assistance in transitioning from homelessness (PATH) to support individuals after they exit substance use disorder treatment with transitional housing (up to 24 months).

Funding Amount: $1.14M (on-going)

Allocation Strategy: Expansion of existing program: PATH

#6: Recovery oriented housing: Recovery housing

Description: Recovery housing is a cost-effective and evidenced-based program that provides individuals in remission from substance use disorder a community living environment that is often coupled with ongoing treatment and recovery services. 

Funding Amount: $5,104,881 (One-Time Only) 

Allocation Strategy: A solicitation will go out this fiscal year to providers qualified through the substance use disorder continuum services RFPQ (Category 5: Supportive Housing Services), BHECN RFPQ (Category 5: Shelter/Housing) and other qualifying procurements.