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Portland's Blanchet House needs crisis team in place to reopen indoor dining

Blanchet House would like to hire a team of professionals to de-escalate any mental health situations their clients might experience.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Even though Oregon has dropped COVID-19 restrictions, Portland nonprofit Blanchet House is not ready to open its dining room to serve those in need. Since the pandemic started, Blanchet House has been serving meals to go. Director Scott Kerman says mental health issues have increased in the last year and he would like a team in place to handle those issues.

"We are not in a position yet where we are ready to welcome people back indoors and serve in a way that's safe and compassionate," Kerman said.

Dontae Campbell has relied on Blanchet House for a decade. He agrees a team of professionals is needed during the meal service to support those in crisis.

"I've been through mental health treatment," Campbell said. "I sorta gave up, I had a substance abuse issues, throughout the duration of the last 10 years."

Kerman says the professionals would be paid and Blanchet House is working to secure the funding.

"People have to be trained, hired and supported," Kerman said. "That's just going to take funding. That's going to take commitment on the part of our public entities."

Kerman says Blanchet House is working with the city and different agencies to get the support team together. He's hoping he can open the dining room again in the fall.