New Year marks start of 24/7 CAHOOTS service

CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) is a mobile clinic staffed by counselors and medics. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), a free, confidential mobile crisis clinic staffed by counselors and medics, is extending will begin operating 24 hours a day in Eugene beginning January 1.

"Things like homelessness never sleeps. People are always homeless. Suicidality never sleeps. Mental health doesn't sleep," CAHOOTS Crisis Councelor Ben Adam Climer said. "People can get us all hours of the day. It's going to be super nice for us to be able to say, you can call for us whenever you need us."

In June, Eugene's City Council increased CAHOOTS funding by $225,000 a year. This allowed CAHOOTS to transition into a 24 hour, 7 days a week service.

CAHOOTS members say due to the volume of calls they get, the extension to a 24-hour service is absolutely necessary.

"We're always looking to grow. This community is always going to be in need of a different approach," CAHOOTS Program Manager Tim Black said. "When we went to two vans in 2011, we were getting maybe 10 to 20 calls a day. And five years later we're seeing 30 to 40 a day on average in Eugene."

CAHOOTS members say the new shift will bring new challenges, like training more teams and finding resources late at night. But, they say the benefits outweigh any problems.

"We can help that person get some place a little earlier in the day, we can help them get access to services a little earlier in the day," Climer said.

CAHOOTS was established in 1989 as a collaboration between White Bird Clinic and the City of Eugene. CAHOOTS responds to mental health crises, substance abuse, family mediation, calls for aid from people who are homeless, and much more.

CAHOOTS in Eugene is dispatched through the Eugene non-emergency police phone line at 541-682-5111.

CAHOOTS also operates in Springfield as CAHOOTS Metro, but CAHOOTS Metro is not switching to a 24 hour schedule. Black says they're hoping to extend CAHOOTS Metro hours from 12 to 16 hours sometime in March 2017. CAHOOTS Metro can be reached through the Springfield Police non-emergency number at 541-726-3714.

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