Behavioral health support and diversion programs

ARP dollars can be used to invest in programs to help people experiencing behavioral health crises with a health-first approach instead of a law enforcement one—an existing standard for wealthy, white communities. ARP dollars can help pilot investments in crisis response systems that connect people to the health care they need, like Eugene, Oregon’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets (CAHOOTS) program. With an annual budget of only $2.1 million, CAHOOTS saves the cities of Eugene and Springfield nearly $20 million each year and resolves nearly 20 percent of all calls that pass through Eugene’s public safety communication system. CAHOOTS has inspired programs across the country, including Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response (STAR). In STAR’s first six months of operation, none of the 748 calls it responded to required police assistance or culminated in an arrest. Olympia, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, also employ non-police specialists who respond to behavioral health crises via police radios and dispatch systems. Denver, Colorado, has already committed to using ARP funds to enable a $1 million expansion of the STAR program.