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New Portland treatment center helps Black men struggling with homelessness and addiction

The program is called "Karibu," which means welcome in Swahili, and will treat Black men struggling with homelessness, drug addictions and mental health issues.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A new treatment facility in Portland for at-risk African-American menheld a grand-opening Tuesday afternoon. It's called "Karibu," which means welcome in Swahili. 

The building can house up to 14 people and will treat Black men struggling with things like homelessness, drug addictions and mental health issues. Program Manager Tori Smith said the center's staff are also Black, which helps make the clients for more comfortable. 

"The African American and Black Community does not have a tendency to go get help because there's not a lot of programs out there that look like us," Smith said. "Our staff looks like us and the people we serve look like us."

Karibu is run by Central City Concern, which provides affordable housing and social services for people in need. Clients will be able to stay in the program for several months after getting referrals from behavioral health departments in Portland metro counties. 

The building has a range of specialized rooms where people can create art, receive counseling, sleep and cook. The culturally specific services will help the men transition back into society as productive citizens.

The Imani Center, a separate program providing addiction and mental health treatment services, is also moving into the building. Isiah Bailey is a graduate of the program and struggled with drug addiction and homelessness a few years ago. 

"I had brain surgery and a tumor in my ear," Bailey said. "I had a kid on the way, ended up homeless and away from my family."

Bailey said the treatment program saved his life and gave him a second chance. He's been sober for three years. 

"It was vital to be able to be around people I felt comfortable around, people that came from the same struggle I came from," Bailey said. 

The funding for this project came from Care Oregon and Multnomah County. It cost more than $1.2 million to complete. 

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