On Nov. 16, 2022, leaders and community partners gathered to celebrate the upcoming grand opening of the Behavioral Health Resource Center in downtown Portland. The center will provide day space, services, shelter and housing for people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges.
The event included speeches from Chair Deborah Kafoury, Health Department Director Ebony Clarke, and Christa Jones, who manages the Health Department's Community Mental Health Program. The ribbon cutting also featured remarks from Alexandra Appleton, who will manage the Behavioral Health Resource Center, and Deandre Kenyanjui, a coordinator with the Office of Consumer Engagement. People with lived experience also spoke, including Central City Concern's Trent Gay, and the Oregon Mental Health Consumers Association's Kevin Fitts.
"This work gives me hope," Ebony Clarke said. "We needed something like this, and now it's here."
"It will be a space that offers our neighbors experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges a safe place off the streets," Chair Deborah Kafoury said.
"I'm a person with lived experience, and I could have only dreamed of having services like this when I was out there struggling with behavioral health issues," Deandre Kenyanjui said.
"Today not only represents a dream come true, but a promise kept," Community Mental Health Program Manager Christa Jones said
"The Behavioral Health Resource Center is going to be peer-ran," Trent Gay said. "[Visitors] are going to be able to look at us and say, 'If they did it, I can do it.'"
"I think this is revolutionary," Kevin Fitts said, "And I think towns up and down the West Coast are going to be paying attention to what's happening here."
"I'm a person with lived experience," Alexandra Appleton said. "Here we are, standing outside of a program that was created by us, and for us."