PORTLAND, Oregon — Construction is underway for a new behavioral health resource center on Southwest Park Avenue in downtown Portland, and Multnomah County is getting a major infusion of federal money to help build it.
The county heath department's behavioral health resource center is set to open this fall. Once completed, the 24,000-square-foot facility will have an adjacent 7,000-square-foot plaza.
Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D) and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D) came to tour the facility on Sunday. They brought with them a ceremonial check for big federal dollars to go to the project.
“It was an honor to be able to submit this funding request and see it in the final appropriations bill: more than $2.6 million, which we are going to see here to help in the plaza as well as other services,” said Bonamici.
Bonamici, Merkley and the rest of the Oregon delegation received congressional support for a place that will help those who are suffering on the streets of Portland.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury added that the center will be "a place where people could get their basic needs met in a safe space and critically, offer connections to services by peers who understand what it's like to live with a behavioral health diagnosis."
A peer-run day center will open this fall, and a 33-bed shelter with 19 beds dedicated to those transitioning to long-term housing will open next year, Kafoury added.
The conversation began three years ago about building the resource center, and it included those who will use the facility as a place to heal and get better.
Deandre Kenyanjui with the Multnomah County Health Department made it through tough times stemming from mental illness and homelessness. He has been involved the resource center project since the beginning.
“And after it being funded and after having stakeholder meetings and getting peers and people with lived experience involved to design this process, now we're under construction," Kenyanjui said. "It's a dream come true."
As of October, the total budget for the project was around $26 million.