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Portland Street Response Year 2 Mid-Point Evaluation Report

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Today Portland State University’s Homeless Research & Action Collaborative has released the Portland Street Response (PSR) Year 2 Mid-Point Evaluation Report. 

“As Portland Street Response continues to grow, it will be vital to continue to evaluate and adapt to ensure our successful new first response option is the best it can be. I’m incredibly thankful to the Portland Street Response Team, Portland Fire & Rescue, and Portland State University for their work that has expanded PSR from a 4-person team in Lents to a nationally recognized, citywide 911 un-armed response option that will soon be operating 24/7 across all of Portland.” 

- Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty 

“Thank you to Dr. Townley and his team for another invaluable and in-depth evaluation. Last year’s focus was on our small program covering a limited area and this year’s evaluation encompasses the program expanding to the entire city and the unique challenges this growth presented to our team. The Portland State University independent evaluation offers guidance as we continue to grow through our next phase as a 24/7 first response program and we look forward to the next study as we dial in our operations and policies to better serve Portland.” 

- Portland Street Response Program Manager Robyn Burek 

This is the 3rd PSR evaluation report produced by PSU. The full 2-year evaluation report is expected in early summer 2024. The full report, as well as previous evaluations, can be found online at https://www.pdx.edu/homelessness/PSR-Evaluation 

Executive Summary Highlights  

  • In the first six months following the citywide expansion of Portland Street Response, PSR responded to 3,228 incidents, which is a 717% increase from the same time period in 2021 (395 incidents). 

  • 94% of calls were dispatched by BOEC (75% from 911 calls and 19% from calls to the non-emergency number), and 6% from PSR self-dispatch 

  • Of the 3,228 calls for service, 3,158 (97.8%) were calls traditionally responded to by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and 70 (2.2%) were calls traditionally responded to by Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R)  

  • 5.5% of all calls involved co-response with other units (e.g., PPB, PF&R, AMR), while 94.5% of calls involved no co-response   

  • PSR staff made 358 referrals to service in their initial contacts with clients in the field, with the majority of these referrals (226) made to PSR community health workers  

  • 64.2% of calls involved someone experiencing homelessness  

  • 64.4% of all client contacts involved someone with suspected mental health needs  

  • No PSR calls during this evaluation period resulted in client arrests 

  • When asked to rate their satisfaction with PSR on a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best), clients rated the program 4.7 out of 5. 

Portland Street Response Outcome Goals 

Outcome 1: Reduce the number of calls traditionally responded to by police where no crime is being committed  

  • The PSR call load represented a 3.2% reduction in total calls that police would have traditionally responded to during PSR’s operating hours.  

Outcome 2: Reduce the number of behavioral health and non-emergency calls traditionally responded to by police and fire.  

  • PSR activity represented a 18.7% reduction in PPB response on non-emergency welfare checks and unwanted persons calls during PSR’s operating hours.  

  • PSR activity represented a reduction of 3.2% in PF&R activity on behavioral health, illegal burn, and non-emergency medical calls during operating hours.  

Outcome 3: Reduce the number of medically non-life-threatening 911 calls that are transported to the emergency department  

  • PSR was able to resolve the vast majority of its calls in the field, with only 61 clients (1.9% of all calls) transported to the hospital for additional care