Portland Comm. Jo Ann Hardesty
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Commissioner Hardesty joins PBOT Director Chris Warner and community leaders for walking tour of new safety interventions on SE Holgate, a high crash corridor - 10/27/21

Commissioner Hardesty joins PBOT Director Chris Warner and community leaders for walking tour of new safety interventions on SE Holgate, a high crash corridor 

(Oct. 27, 2021) Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty invites the news media to join her and Transportation Director Chris Warner for a walk with community leaders to get a firsthand look at newly installed safety interventions along SE Holgate Boulevard, a high crash corridor. 

Commissioner Hardesty won unanimous City Council approval in June of a budget amendment to provide $450,000 in General Funds to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for street safety interventions as an urgent response to the crisis of vehicular violence that has so far caused 48 traffic related deaths on the streets of Portland this year, as of Monday. That represents a 17% increase in traffic deaths for 2021 compared to the same date last year. 

During the walking tour on Thursday, Commissioner Hardesty and Director Warner will visit three intersections on SE Holgate, one of 30 high crash corridors that account for most of the fatal crashes in the city. They will see traffic signal improvements that give pedestrians a head start, interventions that increase visibility at intersections and new signs designed to increase awareness of high crash intersections. 

The improvements on display at Thursday's tour are representative examples of the safety interventions PBOT is installing on the 30 high crash corridors across the city -- thanks to Commissioner Hardesty's budget amendment. Ashton Simpson, executive director of Oregon Walks, and J.R. Lilly, with East Portland Action Plan, will join the commissioner and director for the tour, and will be available for interviews with the media. 


Walking Tour of safety interventions on a high crash corridor 

Who:  Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Transportation Director Chris Warner, Oregon Walks Executive Director Ashton Simpson and JR Lilly, of the East Portland Action Plan.  

What: Tour of new traffic safety interventions on a high crash corridor that were funded with Commissioner Hardesty's budget amendment.  

When:  10:00 to 10:45 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. 

Where: Meet at SE Holgate and 84th Avenue intersection. Find on-street parking in the area. After a discussion and walk at that intersection, the group will walk east to SE Holgate and 87th Avenue. The tour will conclude by walking to a third and final stop in Lents Park on the south side of SE Holgate just west of SE 92nd Avenue.  

Visuals:  Commissioner, director and local community leaders will speak with the media about traffic deaths and the urgent need for safety improvements. They will walk across the street, using a new traffic signal that gives pedestrians a head start in front of car traffic, to make them more visible. They will walk across the street and show how various safety improvements work, and they will show a new sign that PBOT created to highlight the importance of slowing down while driving near high crash intersections. Speeches by the Transportation Commissioner, Transportation Director and community leaders. A mult box will be available for audio for news media. 

Commissioner Hardesty requests funding in Fall Budget Monitoring Process to allow citywide expansion of Portland Street Response - 10/06/21

In late September, the Office of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty submitted a proposal for the upcoming Fall Budget Monitoring Process (Fall BMP) to add an additional $1,081,000 to the Portland Street Response (PSR) current adopted budget of $1.9 million, which would bring the total amount allocated to PSR to $2.9 million.

“Portland Street Response is not just a program – it’s a rethinking of our entire first response system: from how calls are dispatched to ensuring we send the right first responder to the right call,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who is spearheading Portland Street Response within Portland Fire & Rescue. “Yesterday we heard an independent evaluation from Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative that proved the value and success of the PSR pilot. I support PSU’s strong recommendation to expand Portland Street Response and to keep PSR housed within Portland Fire & Rescue.”  

“With Portland Street Response, we're opening new avenues of care for people who have low or no access to the healthcare system,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “And each response that provides vulnerable people with compassionate care at the moment they most need it builds a better first response system for all Portlanders.”

The full details of Commissioner Hardesty’s Fall BMP proposal can be found at this link on page 3: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/796036

You can read the full PSU 6-month evaluation of PSR online.

Tuesday’s work session with Dr. Greg Townley of PSU where he presented his evaluation and recommendations for PSR moving forward can be watched online as well.  

If passed as currently proposed, this budget amendment would allow Portland Street Response to respond citywide, 7 days per week, with the following coverage:  

  • Monday – Thursday: 8am – 6pm (3 vans available)
  • Thursday – Sunday: 6pm – 3am (3 vans available)

Under this proposal, the projected timeline for when Portland Street Response will be able to provide this coverage is Spring of 2022. This lines up with when the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) will have set up the necessary infrastructure to dispatch PSR citywide.  

This budget ask specifically requests the following full-time, limited term positions:  

  • 4 Crisis Medics*
  • 2 Mental Health Crisis Clinician I’s
  • 2 Mental Health Crisis Clinician II’s
  • 3 Community Health Workers
  • 2 Peer Support Specialists  

*The crisis medic classification is currently in the process of creation – this decision package uses the Mental Health Crisis Clinician I job classification as a placeholder for budgeting purposes only.  

“I am supportive of the Portland Street Response program and its expansion,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Yesterday’s work session highlighted the ongoing success of the program, which plays a vital role in meeting the Community Safety Division’s goal of sending the appropriate responder to emergency and non-emergency calls. I look forward to seeing Portland Street Response grow so we can serve additional community members in need of assistance.”

“Based on the findings from the six-month program evaluation, I am supportive of Commissioner Hardesty’s proposal to expand Portland Street Response citywide by March 2022,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “I am particularly encouraged by the program’s impact on reducing police response to non-emergency and behavioral health calls. The budget proposal, if passed, will allocate just over a million additional dollars this year to allow Portland Street Response to ramp up responsibly and to serve the entire Portland community.”

“The objective data and findings from Professor Greg Townley and his research team at Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative are both compelling and helpful,” said Commissioner Dan Ryan. “I have always supported the idea of Portland Street Response and am excited for what comes next. Now that we have a roadmap of substantial and meaningful data, I am thrilled to work with my colleagues to expand PSR across the city.”

“I appreciate that my colleagues have been meeting bi-weekly with the PSR team and participating in ride alongs over the last few months,” said Commissioner Hardesty. “I know my office has been very responsive to their questions, concerns, and thoughts and I look forward to our continued work together to expand Portland Street Response. My office is currently working with Mayor Wheeler’s office on an additional funding proposal as the program continues to expand.”

Under the current collective bargaining agreement between the City of Portland and the Portland Police Association, Portland Street Response is limited to 6 total vans and cannot currently respond to 911 calls involving suicide or responding inside residences. The City of Portland is in the process of good faith bargaining over these issues.

The Portland City Council is scheduled to vote on Fall BMP proposals on Wednesday, October 27th. 

Commissioner Hardesty Statement on 3 Alarm Fire on SE Hawthorne that Injured Multiple Firefighters - 10/05/21

"Today there was a large 3-alarm fire that destroyed local businesses on SE Hawthorne and injured multiple firefighters. I sent my Chief of Staff to the scene of the fire as well as to the hospital treating those injured. I want to express my deepest appreciation to everyone at Portland Fire & Rescue, who despite a year of unique challenges between heat waves and wildfires, are willing to risk everything to keep the Portlanders they serve safe. I wish these brave firefighters and their families well as they recover from today’s tragedy. As the Commissioner in charge of Portland Fire & Rescue, I am here to offer them the support they need to maintain their mental, emotional, and physical wellness." - Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty 

Reminder: 12pm Press Conference with PSU's Dr. Greg Townley, Portland Street Response Program Manager Robyn Burek following the PSR Evaluation Work Session - 10/05/21

From Portland State University:

Contact: Stefanie Knowlton (503) 871-1216 (PSU); Caryn Brooks (971) 409-7993 (PSR); Matt

McNally (Commissioner Hardesty’s office) (503) 823-8422

Press conference: Noon Tuesday, Oct. 5 following the Portland City Council Work Session: (Meeting

ID: 852 4215 7001, Passcode: 318821)

New PSU report examines effectiveness of Portland Street Response

The pilot program responds to non-emergency calls involving people experiencing homelessness or a mental health crisis. Researchers present results to Portland City Council 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Street Response (PSR), the city’s new first-response unit, demonstrated success in meeting outcome goals during the first six months, according to an evaluation by PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative presented to the Portland City Council. 

The program’s outcome goals include reducing the number of calls typically responded to by police; reducing the number of behavioral health and non-emergency calls responded to by police and fire; and reducing the number of non-life threatening 911 calls that are transported to the ER.

Key findings (All from PSR’s service area in Lents neighborhood and during hours of operation):

  • 4.6% reduction in total calls traditionally responded to by police.
  • 22.5% reduction in police response on non-emergency welfare checks as well as dispatches coded as “unwanted persons” and “suspicious persons” calls.
  • 11.6% reduction in fire department activity on behavioral health calls and illegal burn calls.
  • Only 14 calls (3.7%) required transport to ER.
  • Clients rated PSR 5 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.

The evaluation included a survey in collaboration with the Street Roots Ambassador Program. Comments from people experiencing homelessness described the care they received from PSR: “They were friendly, treated me like a human being;” “They were loving and talked with my friend who needed help”; “They put medicine on a wound, gave me food and water, and asked if I needed anything else”; “My friend lived because of them.”

The PSR team made 44 referrals during the initial contact and the team’s community health workers made another 125 referrals in follow-up visits with clients for everything from housing and financial benefits to medical treatment and pet care. The team also helped six people find permanent housing.

“Based on our findings, we believe Portland Street Response is well on its way to becoming a citywide solution to responding to 911 and non-emergency calls involving unhoused people and people experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Greg Townley, director of research at PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative and the lead evaluator.

The evaluation also included recommendations to further increase the program’s effectiveness by expanding it citywide 24/7; expanding call criteria to allow the team to respond inside residences and to respond to calls involving suicide; and keeping the program within Portland Fire & Rescue.

“We appreciate the in-depth evaluation that the researchers from Portland State University put into their program assessment: we plan to utilize the report’s findings and recommendations as we build Portland Street Response’s capacity,” said Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone.

Portland launched PSR in the Lents neighborhood as a new first response for non-emergency calls involving people experiencing homelessness and/or mental health crises. The crew consists of a firefighter paramedic, a licensed mental health crisis therapist and two community health workers.

Portland Fire & Rescue contracted with the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative to conduct an evaluation to examine overall program effectiveness, provide suggestions for refinement and provide recommendations for scaling up citywide. The evaluation will culminate in a one-year program review at the end of the pilot period in Spring 2022.

“From the onset of the Portland Street Response pilot, we have been committed to transparency, evaluation, and adaptation,” said Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “PSU’s 6-month evaluation report includes vital information to understanding PSR’s success and where it can improve moving forward. I’m so thankful to everyone at PSU for this extensive work that will help inform Council as it prepares to vote on expanding PSR citywide this October.”


PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC)

HRAC brings together faculty researchers with expertise in disciplines ranging from psychology and architecture to medicine and linguistics to address the issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness. We work alongside community partners, elected leaders, and those experiencing homelessness on solutions with an emphasis on communities of color.

Media Contacts/Resources:

Portland State University: Stefanie Knowlton, (503) 871-1216, Sknow2@pdx.edu 

Portland Street Response: Caryn Brooks, (971)-409-7993, yn.brooks@portlandoregon.gov">caryn.brooks@portlandoregon.gov

Hardesty’s Office: Matt McNally, (503)-823-8422, destymedia@portlandoregon.gov">hardestymedia@portlandoregon.gov

Photos, b-roll and additional information about the program

Press Conference Noon Tuesday, Oct 5 (Meeting ID: 852 4215 7001, Passcode: 318821)

Commissioner Hardesty directs PBOT to collaborate with community as part of the City of Portland effort to mitigate speeding and gun violence in Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood - 10/01/21

Day after day, the Portland City Council is hearing tragic stories as gun violence continues to devastate our community. Earlier this week, the FBI released data confirming that gun violence is skyrocketing nationwide and Portland is no exception. The Portland City Council has acted - including a historic investment in community-based organizations that interrupt violence and address upstream solutions - but more urgent action is needed.  

As the office of Commissioner Hardesty seeks expanded data from PPB on exactly where shootings are occurring to understand patterns and hot spots, it’s become clear that there is a specific part of the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood that is witnessing a high volume of shootings.

Community members in this neighborhood observed that high-speed traffic from gun violence incidents further threatens public safety. As the Commissioner overseeing the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), which handles traffic safety issues, Commissioner Hardesty's staff worked with PBOT experts and residents to explore options for how the deployment of temporary traffic control devices could help discourage or mitigate the effects of gun violence.

Local resident Nadine Salama described the collaboration, saying “In early August, a group of concerned neighbors reached out to Commissioner Hardesty's office to seek help and guidance regarding the sudden uptick of violence in our neighborhood. Since then, we have been working with the Commissioner's office on solutions that would yield equitable long-term results and not further endanger our community's most vulnerable. Using all of their resources, the Commissioner's office responded to our pleas swiftly and exceptionally quickly. In fact, within just one week of our request to address reckless driving & gun violence, some of our most affected streets are now limited to local access only.”

“The increase in gun violence we are seeing nationwide and here in Portland is due to a complex array of issues, and there is no one simple solution,” said Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “This is an all-hands-on deck situation where government needs to dig deep, think creatively, and directly engage community members to develop shared solutions that improve community safety. From police to community-based organizations to infrastructure design – we all have a role to play in this emergency. I’m directing PBOT to be more active and engaged in holistic solutions to community safety that can supplement police and other bureaus' roles in this effort.”  

The Office of Management & Finance (OMF) Division of Community Safety has also been a part of this joint effort. “I applaud the collaboration between City bureaus and community members in the area as we seek to come together as a City to directly engage with Portlanders and find solutions to the gun violence crisis,” said Community Safety Transition Director Mike Myers.

“This is an experimental pilot, as we engage in a multidisciplinary approach to community safety,” continued Commissioner Hardesty. "We are trying something new that we can learn from. I hope this can be a part of the citywide effort to rethink community safety and to show how bureaus working together with community can lead to innovative approaches that could help mitigate gun violence. Amongst the frustration I am hearing from Portlanders is an ask to engage with those living near gun violence hotspots more directly, to collaborate around their ideas for improving safety in their neighborhood. The hope is that through traffic changes and directly collaborating with neighbors and local businesses, we can slow down activity at these gun violence hot spots and make it more difficult to commit a crime and get away with it.”

Community leaders in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood have highlighted the problem of vehicles speeding on residential streets in the aftermath of recent shootings in the area. To help address this problem, PBOT will install 8 temporary traffic barrels within a 6-block area north of SE Woodstock & 72nd Ave during Phase 1 of this pilot project. The initial installation will take place on Friday, October 1st. Next week will begin Phase 2, where PBOT will install 18 additional temporary traffic barrels. After evaluating the outcomes of phase 1 & 2, additional action may be taken.

“I understand that there are neighborhoods all over Portland that would like to see this kind of close collaboration” said Commissioner Hardesty. “At this moment, neither PBOT nor my office have the resources or capacity to pull that off, but if this pilot is successful, it will inform a budget proposal to allow more of this action moving forward.”

Local resident Nadine Salama concluded that, “Knowing we are being supported and protected by Commissioner Hardesty's office and seeing tangible results so quickly has undoubtedly given many of us a sense of relief and hope that things can turn around. We hope that our community becomes a blueprint for measured responses and equitable solutions to gun violence."