From Street Roots, July 6, 2022 – by Jason Renaud
In the mid-1980s the most dire problem on the streets of Portland (from the point of view of the downtown business community which funded campaigns to elected persons to city hall and to the county) was public inebriates. They were considered unsightly, slightly dangerous, a detriment to tourism and retail development. These were mostly white working-class male late-stage alcoholics who lived in cheap hotels, worked day labor on local farms, drank fortified wines like Night Train, Thunderbird, or MD 40/40, and then might pass out, sometimes on the street. There was some heroin on skid road at the time but not much by comparison to today; some trade in pills, but no cocaine, no methamphetamine. Alcohol was cheap, legal, and easy to access.
From the 1940s there were several punitive efforts by the state, county and the city to address public inebriates – all of which failed largely because none of them addressed alcoholism which was the source of the problem. As the medical world began to map alcoholism as a curable treatable disease with a primary goal of abstinence, policies became more coherent. This took a long time because of social ignorance, fad and psychogenic treatments, and the persuasion of the legislature by the alcohol industry to deregulate and normalize alcohol use.
Until the mid-1970s it was illegal to be drunk on the streets of Portland. Inebriates were not taken to county jail but instead to a set of gang cells at the city police station, which then on 3rd and Oak Street. There was a large cell which could hold thirty or forty men at one time, and during Rose Festival often did. There was a separate, smaller adjoining cell for women. Most of the collected inebriates would be convicted in the morning of public drunkenness, fined and released.
Downtown in the late 1970s it was not uncommon to see unconscious or extremely intoxicated men pretty much everywhere you looked. They littered the streets. In doorways, in lavatories, in public buildings and public parks, or laying on the sidewalk. No tents, no structures, no camps – police did not allow that. Many ended up in the county morgue. There was no public housing program downtown for people under 65 years old. (There was a very active YMCA on Broadway and Taylor until about 1972 which rented cheap rooms; the next-door YWCA was torn down in 1959.) The shelter housing was at the Union Gospel Mission, the Peniel Mission on the East side, Portland Rescue Mission, and Salvation Army Harborlight, but you had to demonstrate you were a Christian and they did not allow youth, people who did not speak English, homosexuals, people who had hallucinations, or most people of color. The only non-religious shelter was a concrete floor at Baloney Joe’s, located on the East side of the Burnside Bridge.
The County and City got interested in providing shelter only when Federal funds became available in 1974 with the first “Public Inebriate Project” (PIP) grants through the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA). The publicly-funded shelters – such as the Everett Street Service Center (started by Jean DeMaster, and which became Transition Projects) and later public program housing though the Housing Authority of Portland or Central City Concern – did not discriminate by race, religion, creed, or sexual identity – which was a huge improvement.
But as commercial real estate values increased in the 1980s and 1990s, single room occupancy buildings, also called residential hotels, where someone could pay cash for a room, were bought by private real estate speculators and by public agencies. Many were converted to offices or torn down. This urban renewal displaced thousands of people who had nowhere else to go. Some became permanently homeless, and incoming late-stage working-class alcoholics and addicts had few options. Because the number of people who are alcoholic, or who become addicted has not been reduced – the number of chronically homeless people has skyrocketed in Portland in the past twenty years.
The goal of this urban renewal was to lure alcoholics and addicts through detoxification and outpatient treatment for their alcoholism or addiction with the offer of free temporary housing and other social supports. This strategy was extremely successful when all the components were in place. At one point, the four-step continuum for late-stage addicts from Hooper Detox sub-acute, to the Estate Alcohol and Drug Free Community, to outpatient treatment at the Portland Acupuncture Addictions Center, and with one-on-one peer monitoring though the Central City Concern Mentor Project, had a 90 day program completion success rate of 67% – perhaps the best rate ever recorded for public addiction treatment.
Those single room occupancy hotels were mostly built from 1890-1917 for those men working in warehouses and on the docks, and for young sailors who came and went. The first World War of 1917-1918 upended this economic boom and sent many of those sailors overseas. Sixty-some years later the labor-intensive merchant marine industry was gone, but the archaeological remnants, the SRO buildings and their retail level taverns and bars, remained. (Residential hotels exist under tenant / landlord law and not hotel law.)
Here is a list of some of the cheap cash-only single room occupancy hotels standing in the 1980s, and their status as of 2022.
Abbey – converted to condos
Ace – now a youth respite shelter
Admiral – converted to apartments
Adrian – torn down, now a parking lot
Albany – torn down, now office building
Albion / Lotus – torn down – vacant lot
American – torn down in the 1970s, now a parking lot
Arlington / Westwind – being converted to program housing
Arthur – converted to apartments
Beaver / Medford – program housing
Biltmore – now public housing
Bridgeport – torn down for condos
Broadway / Swindells – program housing
Butte – now public housing
Calumet / Esquire – converted to condos
Clyde / Ace – converted into tourist hotel
Cornelius – converted to condos
Danmore – torn down for a parking lot (see photo)
Drake – burned and torn down
Earle / Athens / Sally McCracken – program housing
Eaton – converted to apartments
Eastern – converted to offices
Estate – program housing
Everett – converted to condos
Fairfield – now public housing
Foster / Muslof – senior program housing
Golden West – program housing
Governor / Sentinel – converted into tourist hotel
Grant – converted to Portland Rescue Mission in 1963
Hamilton – torn down, Justice Center is there now
Heathman – converted to upscale hotel
Home – still cash-only, should be condemned
Hoyt – torn down – vacant lot
President / Jack London / Century Plaza / Alder – program housing
Jefferson – torn down for condos
Joyce – unoccupied since 2016
Kent / Georgia – still cash-only
Lennox – torn down for condos
Lincoln – unoccupied
Lownsdale – torn down, now Justice Center Maxwell Hall – still cash-only
Merchant – converted to offices
Morrison – converted to offices
New Palace – unoccupied
New Ritz – burned down, empty lot
Park Heathman – converted to apartments
Philip / Grove – converted into tourist hotel (see photo)
Rich / Modern Rich – converted to apartments
Roosevelt – converted to condos
Royal Palm – unoccupied
Shoreline – program housing
St. Francis – torn down for program housing
Stewart – unoccupied
Taft – senior program housing
Villa Rooms – unoccupied
Western Rooming House – converted to apartments
York – unoccupied
Here’s a 30 minute documentary from KATU about life on skid road in the 1980s and the illegally-run hotels for people with mental illness.
Medically-observed detoxification took decades to get rolling in Portland – even though inebriates were regularly dying in police cells. A 1944 blue-ribbon inquiry recommended the drunk tank be replaced but nothing changed until Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt and Don Clark, who previously had been both County Sheriff and County Chairman, found Federal funding to open the County’s David Hooper Memorial Treatment Center in 1972. About David Hooper
While sobering alcoholics can have seizures, vomit, tremors and rapid heart rate – all very dangerous to a person already enfeebled by excessive drinking. The solution is to make sure someone with medical training is keeping an eye on them until they’re sufficiently sober to move around on their own.
The City of Portland ended its funding of acute medical detoxification in early 2020. About 15,000 people visit Portland emergency rooms in both 2020 and 2021 with addiction and 7,000 more for alcohol.
By 1985 Don Clark had retired from the county and launched the Burnside Consortium to manage Hooper Detox (Burnside Consortium later became Central City Concern). Clark was able to revive and repurpose PIP funding to divert inebriates from the criminal justice system.
Clark’s PIP had two parts – the first was to fund CHIERS – an acronym for the Central City Concern Hooper Inebriate Emergency Response Service. The CHIERS vans, staffed by Emergency Medical Technicians, would cruise downtown, pick up inebriates, and take them to Hooper to sleep it off in relative safety. This was seen at the time as a major improvement from police cruising around, picking up inebriates, and taking them to the drunk tank.
The second part of the renewed PIP in Portland were funds for a network of treatment agencies to rent a set of hotel rooms for men who while at Hooper agreed to enter outpatient treatment for alcoholism – or addiction. This network was given the name – the Homeless Alcohol and Drug Intervention Network – or HADIN. At first there were just four or five rooms at the Rich Hotel, but later, in about 1988, the program moved to the fourth floor of the Estate Hotel – 54 rooms.
These rooms were seen by outpatient treatment agencies and the county as a stabilizing influence and improved treatment outcomes, and so those agencies lobbied for access to those rooms for their clients. An agreement was brokered by Richard Harris of Central City Concern – the second winner of the HADIN Award – between several agencies. The agreement – the HADIN Directors Agreement – gave access to the rooms within several conditions.
- The agency executive directors were to meet annually
- All clients were referred to the Alcohol and Drug-Free Community (ADFC) at the Estate Hotel by social workers at the Hooper sub-acute facility
- All clients signed a release at Hooper allowing the HADIN agencies to share medical information – the HADIN release
- Representatives of each agency met weekly to discuss clients in common and share resources. This weekly meeting was called the Homeless Alcohol and Drug Intervention Network.
- Clients remained in services and clean and sober to stay at the ADFC Estate – and would be immediately discharged from the ADFC by Central City Concern staff if they left services or used alcohol or drugs
- The county mental health and addictions office would managed the HADIN agreement and broker disputes between agencies
The Alcohol and Drug Free Community law was written, passed into law (ORS 90.243 Qualifications for drug and alcohol free housing; “program of recovery” defined), and tested in court. Later other SRO buildings were designated as alcohol and drug free communities, including the Sally McCracken, the Hatfield (now the Ankeny Square), the Shoreline, and the Barbara Mahar.
The SRO rooms at the Estate were spartan; a door with a lock on it, a window, a sink, an iron bed with a thin mattress many many other people had slept on – roughly the size of a parking space or single jail cell. But the rooms were a sanctuary from the streets, and a golden opportunity for an addict or alcoholic to take time to sober up and engage in a recovery-based public addiction treatment program. The rooms saved – and save – lives.
The official agencies which signed the initial HADIN agreement were the Native American Rehabilitation Center Northwest, Transition Projects, DePaul Treatment Center, the Veterans Administration Chemical Addiction Rehabilitation Section, Portland Acupuncture Addictions Center, and Project for Community Recovery. Recognizing the institutional racism inherent in county bureaucracy, agencies which had a handshake agreement with the Estate Hotel and were always welcome at HADIN meetings included Stay Clean and the Chicano Concilio. From 1990 – 2004, Alyce Dingler – who along with Daisy McKechnie was one of the first persons in open recovery employed by the County – managed the HADIN Directors agreement.
Who comes to the HADIN meetings? Those who intervene and provide direct care for people who are both homeless and in trouble with alcoholism and addiction. Peer workers, discharge planners, street community responders and barefoot care managers. Turns out a clinical license or an expensive education doesn’t mean you know anything about helping people on the streets. How do you get a broken tooth pulled on a Friday afternoon? Where can you find a box of adult diapers? Is there a detox which will take someone with late stage cancer? Who has a felon friendly room for a gal still using and waiting to get into treatment? Who’s hiring trans peer specialists? How to arrange dialysis transport for someone living in an RV? What agency has gone out of business? Who can help a person who speaks Spanish, is homeless, and appears to be autistic? These practical questions are answered by the heroes at HADIN.
Participants in HADIN 1992-1995 included Susan Steiner and Jeannie Rivers of Hooper Detox, Sandra Chisholm and Sam Esparza of the County Tuberculosis Clinic, Fred Bennett and Marty George of Project for Community Recovery, John Mackey of the Native American Rehabilitation Center Northwest, Shar Mendenhall and Misty Kiyuna of the VA CARS program, Mike Warn and Don Callender of the VA social work program, Talley Cox of Mental Health Services West, Cindy Mosney of the Northwest Pilot Project, Mary Buckley of Transition Projects, Ramon Olguin and Ken Brewster of Portland Acupuncture Addictions Center, Doug Zitek, Eric Ericsen, John Kahnert, of Central City Concern, and Susan Isom and Leslie Rupp of the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. But literally hundreds of agency representatives have participated in HADIN meetings over the years.
The HADIN Award was created in 1995 by Sandra Chisholm of Multnomah County and Marty George of Project for Community Recovery to recognize the lifetime achievement of a direct care worker for homeless Portlanders with alcoholism or addiction. For the first few years the award was a baseball trophy with the awardee’s name written on masking tape. The first person to receive the HADIN Award was Luis Polanco. From his 2006 obituary, “Luis proudly led a life of sobriety for over 45 years and transformed that into a career of helping others find peace from drug and alcohol addiction. After arriving in Portland in 1970, Luis was instrumental in the creation of several addiction recovery programs including Alcoholic Counseling and Recovery Program (ACRP), NARA NW, Harmony House and the Oregon Chicano Concilio. He was presented with numerous state and national awards for his tireless dedication to the Hispanic & Native American communities, including receiving the HADIN Award for his work with the homeless.”
Other HADIN Award recipients include ~
David Eisen, LAc
Ricardo Verdeguez-Rodriguez – 2021
Lois Patterson – 2021
Debbie Borgelt – 2022
Jose Luis Garcia-Rolon – 2022
In more recent years, HADIN heroes have included Tom Young of Salvation Army, Bill Jensen, Crystal Tompte, Michael Teeple, Shyra Wade of Native American Rehabilitation Center Northwest, Michael Mellick, Reginald Straughter, Tyrone Rucker, Donna Standing Rock, Mike Savara, and Vi Swiftcloud of Central City Concern, Tammie Jones from the State of Oregon, Claudia Schroeder of TriCounty 911 Outreach and now OHSU, Susan Montgomery and Larry Turner of Multnomah County, Medina Sonuga of Transition Projects, Kristi Katzke of Blanchet House, Caryn Ficker of Lifeworks NW Mountaindale, Gregg Griffin of Handup Project, Steven Slatten of Free on the Outside, June Cassell of Portland Rescue Mission, Laura L. Shugart of Kaiser Permanente, and Kelly Fitzpatrick, who is now with Multnomah County.
In early 2022 the Directors Agreement and associated consent form – or release of information – between agencies was discarded because agency executive directors first stopped supporting HADIN and then grew gunshy about participants sharing client information between agencies. Instead of giving up, HADIN participants leaned in and voted to become independent of the agencies – and continue to work together without an interagency agreement. HADIN individual participants still meet weekly and no longer discuss individual clients but instead share resources and mutual support between participants. HADIN participants met during COVID via Zoom, and there’s an active list serv with over 350 participants started by 2021/2022 HADIN Chair June Cassell of Portland Rescue Mission.
Jason Renaud is board secretary of the Mental Health Association of Portland and was HADIN Chair, 1992-1995.