Last month, the Portland Development Commission forked over $2 million for a mental health crisis unit on the second floor of Multnomah County’s Hooper Detoxification Center at 20 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
As the city and county have come community pressure to better address the needs of mentally fragile individuals in the wake of three high profile police shootings earlier this year, it seems like the move to fund the center would be a no-brainer.
However, the Southeast Examiner is reporting that not everyone is pleased about the funding allocation.
The funds for the center are slated to be taken out of the Central East Side Urban Renewal District, and members of the advisory committee complained to the Examiner that they weren’t consulted, and found out about the decision in a news article.
From the Examiner:
URAC [Urban Renewal Advisory Committee] chair Susan Lindsay called the action a “flat-out money grab,” and added, “This was a result of the latest (police) shooting, and a history of seriously mentally ill people being shot by the police. I don’t disagree with the need for this, but I would have appreciated at least getting a phone call.”
Another member, Susan Pearce of Hosford-Abernethy, said this sort of action has become “sort of the norm. I for one have had it. Why are we here?”
URAC member Rick Michaelson added, “This isn’t the first time this has happened. What can we do to make it the last time? This is totally inappropriate, and sets a precedent that three guys can get together and agree on something with no public process.”
In addition to the process issues, several URAC members expressed concern about the effect of the expenditure. PDC staffer Joleen Classen said that the money was borrowed from a future district urban renewal budget, so it wouldn’t affect anything appropriated under next year’s budget.