NEWS RELEASE: Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, Local Public Safety Coordinating Council bring home $2 million federal grant for Reimagining Justice project in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood

October 9, 2023

A collaboration between Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC), regional leaders, and community-based organizations has earned a 3-year, $2 million federal grant to help residents in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood to build a non-law-enforcement response to low-level crime.

The grant for this innovative Reimagining Justice Project comes from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. The project will begin with a one-year planning period to identify priorities and engage residents in crafting their own solutions to the public safety issues they experience. The Cully neighborhood is the focus of this project, based on neighborhood support, an analysis of crime rates/demographics, and existing efforts that complement the Reimagining Justice Project. 

“I’m excited we have secured this federal grant that will allow Cully residents to develop their own unique solutions to their public safety concerns,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal. “Everyone deserves to feel safe and see accountability in their neighborhood, and this project provides an opportunity for those living in Cully to determine what that looks like.”

The goals of this project are to advance community-driven approaches that improve community safety, facilitate access to needed services, and increase trust between residents, government, and law enforcement.

The Cully project serves as the first opportunity to implement some of the core strategies developed through Multnomah County’s Transforming Justice visioning project. The Transforming Justice vision focuses on expanding strategies beyond the current criminal legal system and provide behavioral health services, medical treatment, housing, and employment.

“This grant allows us to allocate funds to the community to create place-based solutions to public safety, deploy interventions that reduce harm and use the criminal legal system in a more limited way, and prioritize community-building between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods they patrol,” said LPSCC Executive Director Abbey Stamp.

Cully residents must approve the resulting plan and slate of services, which will be procured through the County’s process, resulting in sub-contract awards to the organizations selected to implement the plan. Given known systemic disparities, at least 40% of funds awarded must go to organizations serving communities of color positioned to provide the services prioritized in the plan. In fact, the lead partner agency is the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA).

“NAYA is excited to be the lead community-based partner on the Reimagining Justice Project. Gun violence and lower-level crimes have negatively impacted community safety, particularly for Native American, Black, and people of color residents who fear and distrust traditional law enforcement,” said NAYA Interim CEO Oscar Arana. “This project aligns with our vision and commitment to the safety and wellbeing of Native American youth and families. Our aim is to explore alternative approaches to public safety that respect cultural identity and address community needs. NAYA’s robust presence in the Cully neighborhood, providing a safe gathering center and critical services for the Native American community, and our strong track record of organizing and empowering the community in partnership with our Living Cully partners, are critical elements to this project’s success.”  

The project will receive independent oversight that will follow the project throughout the three-year timeframe. The evaluation components will create and track performance measures, collect and analyze essential data for process improvements and understanding impact, and create a replicable evidence-based model for similarly-situated neighborhoods to implement. 

“This grant demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to partnering with local communities to improve public safety,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland. The Cully neighborhood has a long tradition of lifting up community-based solutions, and I commend Commissioner Jayapal for championing this effort.”