PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) – The new Behavioral Health Resource Center is set to open its doors in downtown Portland this fall.
What this center offers those in need is different than anything else in Multnomah County because it’s going to be run by people who know firsthand what it’s like to experience homelessness or addiction.
“Often times, with behavior health services or when an individual is going to treatment, they are being told what it’s like to experience addiction or mental illness from a book or a theory or a reference,” Deandre Kenyanjui from the Multnomah County Health Department Office of Consumer Engagement said. “This is people who have been there with lived experience who are going to be here in the process walking them through step by step.”
Kenyanjui has been working on this project for the past four years. He was houseless and is also in recovery, so this project is very close to his heart.
“It creates an environment of lack of judgment,” he said. “It creates empathy and understanding and a person that has been through what you’re going through currently. It’s a vision of hope.”
When the center opens, it will have space for about 75 people on the first two floors. In 2023, the third and fourth floors will open as a shelter and transitional housing.
Kenyanjui said the goal is to get people connected to the services they need all in one place.
“A lot of the times people in our community are suffering from co-occurring disorders and they’re not able to find the services,” he said. “I think that the unique thing about this process is we’re bringing the services to the people. They’re not forced to go look and find it.”
Elected officials toured the site on Tuesday and presented a check for the final $2.67 million needed to complete the project.
The hope is that this site will serve as a model for other counties in Oregon and across the country.
“We’re out here, there’s people that have been where you’ve been and there’s hope,” Kenyanjui said.
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