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Ed Blackburn, Central City Concern president and CEO emeritus, was instrumental in developing the building that was named in his honor. (pc: Andie Petkus)
Ed Blackburn, Central City Concern president and CEO emeritus, was instrumental in developing the building that was named in his honor. (pc: Andie Petkus)
Blackburn Center opens: providing health care, housing and employment services in East Portland (Photo) - 07/10/19

PORTLAND, OR: Central City Concern (CCC), Portland’s non-profit serving people impacted by homelessness, poverty and addictions since 1979, opened a new six-story building on July 9 to provide health care, housing and employment services to people who need it most. Blackburn Center (12121 E Burnside St, Portland) takes an innovative approach that integrates care to treat the whole person.

The health care section will eventually serve 3,000 people each year with recovery and mental health services, as well as primary care. The clinic will include a pharmacy and 51 units of respite care for people leaving a hospital with nowhere to go; (10 beds for people in palliative care will be added later.) Additional housing will include 80 units of alcohol- and drug-free transitional housing and 34 permanent homes. Integrated resident and health support services will help residents stay housed and in recovery.

Blackburn Center has caught national attention, according to Bobby Watts, National Health Care for the Homeless Council CEO. “Central City Concern has long been a leader in innovative health care for people impacted by homelessness,” Watts said. “The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and clinics across the country, are excited to learn from Blackburn Center’s integrated, culturally competent, compassionate care that changes lives and elevates the entire community. We’re excited about Blackburn Center as a potential new model of holistic care for other states to consider replicating,”

Watts didn’t attend Blackburn Center’s Grand Opening in person, but the program featured local luminaries such as Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick, Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan and Hazelwood Neighborhood Association President Arlene Kimura..

The celebration began at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9. CCC’s President and CEO Rachel Solotaroff, M.D. kicked off the festivities. “This beautiful space is a testament to the dignity and potential each person we serve holds, with an elegant and elevating environment to prove it,” she said.

Other speakers included Heather Lyons from Corporation for Supportive Housing, Darren Van’t Hof from US Bank, Margaret Salazar from Oregon Housing and Community Services and Steve Allen from the Oregon Health Authority.

Julie Smith, a general laborer apprentice from Walsh Construction, spoke about how helping construct Blackburn Center is especially meaningful to her: “Central City Concern actually helped me out of homelessness and addiction,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m actually helping to expand an agency that helped me so much.”

The program ended with reflections from CCC’s President and CEO Emeritus Ed Blackburn, who retired in 2017 after 26 years at CCC. Ed was instrumental in pulling together the Housing is Health initiative, which was the culmination of years of outstanding leadership and relationship building.

Blackburn Center is the third of three buildings in the Housing is Health initiative – a pioneering commitment from local hospitals and health organizations to supportive, affordable housing that included a combined $21.5M investment from those organizations. The two other Housing is Health buildings, Hazel Heights and Charlotte B. Rutherford Place, opened in late 2018.

Representatives from the Housing is Health initiative’s six health care organizations each said a few words: Ralph Prows, M.D., Adventist Health Portland Chief Medical Officer; Eric C. Hunter, CareOregon president and CEO; Dan Field, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals executive director for community health and external affairs; Danny Jacobs, M.D., OHSU CEO; Doug Koekkoek M.D., System Chief Medical Officer, Physician Enterprises, Providence St. Joseph Health; and Kathryn Correia, Legacy Health president & CEO.

CCC broke ground on the building in November 2017. The developer is Central City Concern, the architect is Ankrom Moisan, the builder is Walsh Construction and the construction manager is GLI.

Other major funders, in addition to the Housing is Health initiative, include Oregon Housing and Community Services, US Bank, Portland Housing Bureau, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Low Income Investment Fund, Oregon Health Authority, Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Multnomah County, The Collins Foundation, The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF), Meyer Memorial Trust, The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Portland General Electric Foundation, The Standard and its employees, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

For more information, visit centralcityconcern.org/blackburn. Additional photos (pc: Andie Petkus): https://andiepetkus.zenfolio.com/p508149078

 

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