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Homelessness -- Social aspects -- Case Studies, Homelessness -- Oregon -- Portland, Homelessness -- Surveys, Social justice, Racial justice, Equity


Many advocates, local officials, and people experiencing homelessness agree that Portland needs a better way to respond to low-priority calls for service involving those experiencing homelessness and behavioral health crises. This report examines efforts to address homelessness in Portland through the development of a plan to dispatch the Portland Street Response unit rather than police.

A team of community partners spread out across the city July 16 and 18 to interview people experiencing homelessness to help inform the design of the Portland Street Response pilot project (PSR). An additional team went out on Sept. 6.

Members of Street Roots, Sisters of the Road, Right 2 Survive, Street Books, the Portland State University Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative, the Map- ping Action Collective, Yellow Brick Road, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s office, and Alissa Keny-Guyer’s office interviewed 184 unhoused people. Participants formed teams of two to three, each lead by a Street Roots vendor or someone else who had experienced homelessness.

Teams engaged people experiencing homelessness in discussions about what the PSR pilot should look like, including who the first responders should be, how they should approach individuals in crisis, what types of services and resources they should bring with them, and what types of training they should have. Following the interviews, responses were analyzed and summarized into this report to provide guidance for this important initiative based directly on the needs and experiences of unhoused people.


Copyright Portland State University Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative 2019.

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