Post Oct. 24, 2008
By Amanda Waldroupe
The Oregon office of Addictions and Mental Health Division is moving and shaking.
On September 12, it was announced that Richard Harris, 68, the retiring executive director of Central City Concern, would replace Bob Nikkel and serve as interim director of the division.
Tapping Harris to head the Addictions and Mental Health office, which is a division within the state’s Department of Human Services, is nothing short of bold: His admirers say Harris is perhaps the only person in the state who has the integrity and experience to tackle the challenges facing Oregon’s mental health and drug treatment systems.
Some of those challenges include a dilapidated state hospital that was taken through the wringer by an investigation conducted by the Department of Justice released in January of this year, determining the future of Cascadia after its April financial implosion, bolstering the state’s community health systems, and all in times of scarce financial resources.
Harris has a solution, one that he has found working for Central City Concern for 29 years. The social service agency’s nationally recognized way of providing alcohol, addiction and mental health services—combining supportive services with housing in a supportive community—is a model he hopes to begin replicating at the state level.
Harris started the job on Monday, September 29. In an interview with Street Roots, Harris talked about his plans for being interim director and some of the challenges he faces.
More after the jump. Continue reading
Sept. 18, 2008
Tye Doudy is 33 years old and lives in Portland. His stories chronicle his experiences and are told in the hopes that others may learn from his mistakes. This is the latest in a series of articles about his life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tye Doudy
Waking up under the Jackson Street Bridge is never a good way to start the day. Looking out from under the meager warmth of the mildew-smelling blankets, I can’t see the sky, only the mud, the beer cans and discarded piles of wet clothing revealed in the sodden half light of early dawn. It is a typical Portland morning in late spring. Cold, slate-grey sheets of rain pound the overpass and the cars rushing overhead. The rhythmic sounds of their passing greet my ears like the waves of a great industrial ocean crashing on blacktop shores.
Addict’s Almanac, Parts I-III
August 6, 2008
The smoky interior of the Roxy, with its smells of clove cigarettes, coffee, and greasy diner food, is an oasis. Those old familiar pulp fiction posters on the wall and the same Skinny Puppy songs playing on the jukebox. Small groups cluster at tables and in the booths. Gothic kids and punk rockers drinking the all-night coffee and chain smoking. Flamboyant gay guys sitting at the bar talking loud and looking around to see if anyone is paying attention. No one is.
I spot an associate sitting by himself at one of the small two-person tables and make my way over. His name is Joe but he goes by Ashes, and Ashes looks loaded. He barely looks up when I sit down and from the length of the ash on his smoke I can tell he was on the nod. His hooded eyes finally look up and find mine as the waiter takes my order for coffee and toast. He tucks a long strand of greasy hair behind his ear and through missing teeth tells me I look like hell. Coming from him this is truly something.
Ashes has been on the streets a long time. He was already “old” when I first hit the dope road all those years ago. Beneath his long and tattered leather jacket and his Sisters Of Mercy T-shirt his thin frame shows the wear of the longtime dope fiend. His arms are covered in homemade tattoos and scars from past abscesses. He is somewhere in his late 30s but looks a decade older. Anybody with eyes would make him for an addict. He’s about as trustworthy as a rented snake, and he is the closest thing I have to a friend at this moment.
My first question is, of course, is he holding and second, can I get him to kick down a little something. Even a rinse would set me straight and buy me some time to make a plan. No junky wants to give up any dope ever, but I have some leverage as he has no hustle and he knows I will make some money today. He supports his habit by spare changing in the transit mall. Not a sure thing, even on a good day. A real loser’s gambit. Real bottom of the food chain shit. So I get him to agree to get me well as long as I take him along on whatever scheme I cook up for the day.