SALEM, Ore. – A new bill in the Oregon legislature could help bring CAHOOTS-style services to the rest of Oregon.
House Bill 2417 had its first public hearing before the House Committee on Behavioral Health Wednesday morning.
The bill uses White Bird Clinic’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program as a model for the rest of the state.
If passed, HB 2417 would create matching grants that cities and counties could use to fund similar teams focusing on de-escalating situations and crisis intervention.
The bill’s sponsors were first to testify about why they think it should pass.
“Mental health is not a criminal act. We should not be calling the police and needing police response to medical issues,” said Rep. Tawna Sanchez of House District 43.
CAHOOTS has gained much attention over the past year amid nationwide calls to defund police. Advocates see the program as a more effective alternative.
Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden recently re-introduced a bill that will expand CAHOOTS-style services nationwide.
“The CAHOOTS program in Eugene… has been successful for decades. Funding these teams is a considerable roadblock to many communities. Especially rural areas that already lack access to mental health care,” said Rep. Janeen Sollman of House District 30.
You can read the full text of the bill here.