This sixth episode in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Tim Black, Director of Consulting for the White Bird Clinic in Eugene, Oregon, in which he discusses the CAHOOTS program, a community-based public safety model that provides mental-health first response for crises that involve mental illness, homelessness, and substance-use disorder.
The Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program provides 24/7 mobile crisis intervention services to those in need, including people experiencing homelessness or living with mental health conditions. Long before joining CAHOOTS in 2010, Tim Black worked with youth experiencing homelessness. CAHOOTS’ focus is on contacting and providing services to people with critical needs prior to their requiring hospitalization or criminal justice intervention. CAHOOTS staff initiate contacts with people who are handicapped by homelessness, mental illness, or substance-use disorders. Black indicates that CAHOOTS and the White Bird Clinic do not impose a treatment regimen on those it contacts. Responders inquire about and listen to persons’ perceptions of their needs and the types of services they prefer. The intent is to help them avoid an imminent crisis that requires emergency medical or criminal justice intervention. CAHOOTS gives priority to making known to community service agencies and criminal justice agencies the nature and goals of its services, thus encouraging community service agencies to divert appropriate cases to CAHOOTS and the White Bird Clinic.