Celebrating One Year of Blackburn Center

Jun 30, 2020

In July 2019, Blackburn Center opened its doors to patients and job-seekers — weeks after welcoming nearly 100 residents to their new, affordable homes. This moment was the culmination of years of dreaming, planning and designing a first-of-its-kind, deeply integrated care model. Finally, CCC's signature services, from housing to health care to employment assistance, would all be available under one roof.

A group of Blackburn Center staff celebrated their first resident moving into housing in June, 2019 with a playful birthday cake. In many ways, Blackburn Center felt like a birthing process, and staff wanted to commemorate the building's first days of existence!

The hard work didn't end with opening the doors to Blackburn Center, and it continues each day as we connect with clients and deepen our roots in the East Portland community.

Since opening, Blackburn has served:

  • 214 residents
  • 1,956 health patients
  • 68 job-seekers

As we celebrate one year of Blackburn Center, we also celebrate every individual who has walked through our doors seeking housing, health care, recovery support, employment, or any combination of our services. One of those individuals is Charlette, who came to Blackburn Center as soon as it opened seeking a new path. Today, we're celebrating two anniversaries: one year of recovery for Charlette and one year of services at Blackburn Center.

Charlette was one of the first people to walk into the newly opened Blackburn Center in 2019. Now she's celebrating one year in recovery!

Charlette was homeless and addicted to heroin for six years — living in cars, sleeping in bus stops or just walking around all night. Then, six friends died of overdoses in one week. That was when she knew she had to turn her life around.

Charlette was one of the first people to walk into CCC’s new Blackburn Center. Within a single day, Charlette:

  • Saw a primary care provider, who treated her for her chronic thyroid condition 
  • Saw a psychiatric nurse practitioner, who started her on buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone) for acute opioid withdrawal 
  • Immediately filled her buprenorphine prescription via the Blackburn Pharmacy 

Over the next few weeks, Charlette saw a drug counselor and became active in groups and one-on-one counseling. She was also one of the first residents of Blackburn’s alcohol- and drugfree transitional housing.

“Having my housing and health care together in one building is a big thing!” Charlette says. “I can just go right downstairs and get my Suboxone at the pharmacy, or go to a group meeting, without ever leaving the building. That’s huge.”

Within less than six months, Charlette graduated from her outpatient program and, guided by Blackburn’s on-site employment specialist, began training as an on-call employee in CCC buildings.

“Having my housing and health care together in one building is a big thing!”

One year later and Charlette has stable housing, is working at CCC's Letty Owings Center, and has one full year of recovery under her belt.

Clearly, the full slate of services available at Blackburn Center is working well for Charlette. She says, “I’m paying back everything that CCC has given me by being a success. That’s exactly what I want to be.”



Rooted In Community: Reflecting on Blackburn Center's First Month

Aug 06, 2019

It's been just over a month since Central City Concern started serving patients and residents at Blackburn Center, our newest community health center site with integrated housing and employment services. For our second National Health Center Week post, we asked Dr. Eowyn Rieke, director of Blackburn services, to reflect on its first few weeks serving the community. Here, she reflects on the impact they're beginning to make and her hopes for how Blackburn Center will deepen its roots in the surrounding community.

• • •

It was Wednesday, July 3 — just the second day of services at Central City Concern’s Blackburn Center. I was walking around our newly opened clinic lobby in an effort to connect in person with new clients to welcome and thank them for coming in. One of the first clients I spoke with said to me, “I can’t believe all these services are in the same place. I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t here.” We were offering her primary care, medication for substance use, and mental health care, with the hope for a placement in housing once she was in substance use treatment.

“It is too bad you have to be poor to get these services. I used to have private insurance and I never got care this good,” another client told me. He was at Blackburn Center to receive intensive substance use treatment and physical health care services and planning to connect with employment services soon.

And another new client, referred to Blackburn Center from CCC’s Hooper Detox, confided, “I knew I needed a primary care provider but I didn’t know how to get one. Then I went to Hooper and everything started to fall in to place.”

These clients represent several of our core principles at Blackburn Center: client-centered care and integration, with a focus on meeting clients where they are and offering an array of services, all focused on helping them move forward in their lives.

"I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t here.”

My colleagues and I spent a few years dreaming about these services and how we’d deliver them, and worked remarkably hard to design them. A month ago, we finally opened our doors to serve the community. In our first month we’ve served 450 people across Blackburn Center’s housing, health care and employment services. Some of our most significant accomplishments since we opened include:

  • Successfully moving our Eastside Concern outpatient program to Blackburn Center, with its staff making incredible efforts to complete assessments for new housing residents referred from Hooper Detox
  • Getting 33 of our 34 permanent homes occupied
  • Getting 33 of our 80 transitional housing units occupied, with new residents coming from a wide range of referral partners in the community, including Women’s First, NARA, CODA and Multnomah County, as well as CCC’s own Hooper Detox, Puentes and Blackburn substance use disorder programs
  • Serving more than 100 new clients with primary care services
  • 90 referrals to employment services
  • Enrolling 20 new clients in our low-barrier Suboxone program
  • Managing the Recuperative Care Program’s (RCP) move from downtown Portland into Blackburn Center and admitting many new residents each week while RCP staff continue to provide excellent care and case management

As the director of Blackburn Center, one of the things that excites me most — one of the clearest visions for Blackburn Center that we’ve carried since we started dreaming of the building — is its eventual role in the community as a hub of activity for our neighbors and clients: a place people can come to get a wide array of health services, as well as a space to host community events that bring people together to share their joys and struggles.

While the building itself is beautiful, and our services have already kept us busy, I look forward to inviting even more stories, struggles and victories into Blackburn Center. One of the ways we’ll start doing that soon is by hosting many community-based recovery groups in our Weinberg Community Room, an open and light-filled gathering space on the building’s first floor. These groups will be open to the community and will offer new opportunities for people in recovery to gather and support each other in their East Portland neighborhood.

... one of the things that excites me most — one of the clearest visions for Blackburn Center that we’ve carried since we started dreaming of the building — is its eventual role in the community as a hub of activity for our neighbors and clients...

Our first month of Blackburn Center was focused on getting our services up and running; now we turn our attention to building and deepening our relationships with community groups to work toward our ultimate goal of ending homelessness. We work closely with health and social service organizations also doing work in East Portland, including Bridges to Change, Multnomah County and Transition Projects. Working together, we can strengthen the safety net for people experiencing homelessness and build new opportunities for them to move into housing and more stable lives. We will also open mental health services in the next few months to meet the needs of our community members struggling with severe mental illnesses.

Every connection we make is one string in a web that supports our neighbors. We look forward to many years working with partners to build a strong net that helps all of us build healthier community.