Lori Stegmann – Candidate Survey 2022

Lori Stegmann

Lori Stegmann

Lori Stegmann
Candidate for Multnomah County Chair

Campaign website – www.votelori.com
Campaign email address – contactus@votelori.com

Question One – People with lived experience of mental illness, addiction, alcoholism, and or trauma are under-represented in public office. What is your personal experience with these illnesses?

In an earlier chapter of my life I was in a long-term relationship with someone who was experiencing addiction. Our savings was gone, our utilities were being shut off, and we were at risk of losing our housing. And when paranoia set in and firearms were introduced into our home, it became unsafe. Addiction, alcoholism, trauma and mental illness have all been close companions in my family.

Many of my loved ones have been in recovery for decades, while others have succumbed to their disease. Others have received diagnoses of their mental health disorders which has allowed them to receive appropriate medication, treatment, and counseling while some continue to struggle undiagnosed. I don’t know anyone who is untouched by these illnesses which is why we need a wholesale change of how we deliver services.

Question Two – Oregon ranks at the bottom of states in a well-regarded national survey of access to public treatment services for mental illness, addiction and alcoholism. What can you in office do to change this?

Later this year we will be opening our new Behavioral Health Resource Center in downtown Portland. The Center will prioritize services for people with mental health illness who are experiencing homelessness. And will serve as a low barrier day space, mental health shelter, and transitional housing site for homeless individuals living with behavioral health issues. The day center will include access to showers, laundry, peer counseling, housing, medical care, and meal service. Other services will include resource connections for housing, employment and education, and culturally specific services.

Create a Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team similar to Portland Street Response. This model would serve individuals with serious mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system. Most often these individuals have co-occurring substance use and physical health disorders. This intervention would bridge the behavioral health and criminal justice system to improve mental health outcomes, reduce recidivism, divert individuals in need of treatment away from the criminal justice system, reduce recurring arrest, incarceration, and hospitalization and would increase public safety.

This multidisciplinary team would include: a psychiatrist/psychiatric nurse practitioner, registered nurse, criminal justice specialist, housing specialist, peer specialist with lived experience, and specialists in employment and substance use services.

Question Three – In that same national survey, Oregon ranks at the top for prevalence of mental illness, addiction and alcoholism. What can you in office do to change this?

Continue to work on and support our Behavioral Health Emergency Coordination Network (BHECN) to create a 24/7 crisis triage center. This single point of access for help for people experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis will include mental health and sobering crisis services. And it will provide an alternative for people who are in crisis when encountering law enforcement, emergency medical services, and other first responders and will divert people out of jail and our criminal justice system.

But more importantly we need to invest in upstream services to help people from experiencing a crisis.

Question Four – A natural consequence of lack of access to treatments and high prevalence of mental illness, addiction and alcoholism is chronic homelessness. Why isn’t Portland’s strategy to reduce homelessness working and what could you do in office to change that?

I believe that there needs to be more public-private partnerships. I am currently working with a nonprofit who delivers peer led homeless services and a property management company to enter into a master lease to house approximately 20 of the nonprofit’s employees. Without this kind of intervention, many of these individuals have little or no chance of ever having their rental applications approved due to past rental histories and/or past justice system involvement. These folks have already paid their debt to society and yet our systems and bureaucracies continue to punish them. We should honor the fact that these individuals have received job training and full-time employment earning $20-$24 an hour along with healthcare benefits.

I am confident that these kinds of partnerships will enable us to exponentially house more people, more quickly. And I plan on taking this approach to scale by recruiting additional multifamily property owners. Providing workforce training, family wage jobs, access to housing, and supportive services is how we reduce homelessness.

Question Five – In 2015 the US DOJ found the Portland Police Bureau has a pattern and practice of harming people with mental illness. There’s little data to show that pattern and practice has changed, and no data to show other metro area police bureaus are any different. How would you in office engage with this problem?

No response to Question Five.