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Bud Clark Commons provides a lifeline for city's most vulnerable people

We appreciate reporter Peter Korn’s look at Housing First, the harm-reduction model at the Bud Clark Commons apartments (Police threaten complaint as calls mount at the commons, Jan. 9).

The apartments are home to our community’s most vulnerable citizens, some whose lives would be in jeopardy if it weren’t for a roof over their head. In addition to chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes and liver failure, many struggle with mental health and substance abuse challenges and have a long history of homelessness. The apartments at Bud Clark Commons provide a home to those with multiple barriers to housing. They can receive mental health and addiction services as they stabilize their health in a safe place to live.

Based on experience other communities have had with the Housing First model, we knew we would face challenges. We have worked from the start to tackle those issues and continue to do so in partnership with the Portland Police Bureau.

We evaluate our investments based on outcomes. In its two years of operations, 80 percent of residents at the 130 Bud Clark Commons apartments have maintained stable housing. Nearly 100 residents are working with mental health providers, and 41 have engaged in substance abuse treatment in the last six months.

At its core, Bud Clark Commons underscores Portland’s commitment to protecting our most vulnerable citizens. This facility is an important part of our communitywide plan to end homelessness and draws on the expertise and best practices of trusted partners who work in fields addressing mental health, housing, homelessness and public safety.

These partners meet regularly with apartment staff from Home Forward to improve outcomes and maintain safety and security for residents at Bud Clark Commons and the surrounding community.

With this level of partnership, commitment and innovation, our community can provide a safe and stable place for our most vulnerable citizens to call home.

Traci Manning

Portland Housing Bureau director

Steve Rudman

Home Forward executive director