Portland’s Quest Center for Integrative Health, which provides income-inclusive support for a variety of mental and physical health issues, will open a new location on SE 50th Avenue, about half a mile from Franklin. The opening will take place on a currently undetermined date in early spring this year.
The Quest Center for Integrative Health was founded in 1989, initially to provide support for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to its website. It has since expanded to help with a variety of other issues, such as substance use and mental health. Today, anyone at least 18 years of age is welcome. It primarily helps lower-income people, those with HIV/AIDS, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Those who want to receive treatment will be able to find a variety of different supports, regardless of what they originally walked in for.
The new location will make this easier to do. Previously, the Quest Center was divided into smaller buildings, which reduced the connectivity between its various services. Now clients can easily access multiple programs within the same building.
The Quest Center is able to accommodate those under Medicaid, the Oregon Health Plan, and other related healthcare coverage plans provided for people of lower incomes, as well as commercial insurance. According to the organization’s website, more than 70 percent of its clients are “low income and/or medically un-insured or under-insured.”
The Quest Center connects members of the community who have historically often been isolated from one another. For example, the Center holds gatherings for people living with HIV, including one called Women of Wisdom, which helps women living with HIV, featuring services like peer support groups and childcare.
The community services extend well beyond those for people living with HIV. For instance, the organization runs a community meal on Thursday nights, serving donated food from the Whole Foods across the street, which volunteers cook together. “The only rule is that you have to introduce yourself,” says Scott Taylor Moore, Community Affairs & Policy Officer for the Quest Center for Integrative Health
.. “…You sit down at a table to talk with people, and we do that because we … really believe in creating a community to further your health,” he explains.
The Quest Center received additional funding after the February 2021 enactment of Oregon Measure 110, which transitioned the state’s approach to substance use toward rehabilitative services and away from the criminal justice system. “It helps us pay the rent on that space for the individuals and also pays for services that they may need,” says Moore.
It has also stepped in to help in the midst of Portland’s housing and houselessness crises, partnering with Bridges to Change to provide transitional housing for those who need it. Bridges to Change teams up with a variety of organizations, including the Quest Center, to offer housing units that help people make their way toward permanent homes. Many people in the program are in recovery from substance use or mental health-related issues, as a referral is required.
The housing crisis has been especially dangerous for transgender Portlanders. “What we know is that [for] transgender people there are … no safe recovery houses or … there’s just nothing available for them,” says Moore. 63 percent of transgender people experiencing houselessness, and 80 percent of gender non-conforming people experiencing houselessness, were unsheltered in 2019, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Bridges to Change and the Quest Center’s housing partnership has helped many of its residents recover. “50% of those people go on to find permanent housing after they finish treatment after living in the house,” says Moore. The other half are still accounted for with transitional housing, according to Moore.
One barrier to accessing the Bridges to Change program is that it can take a while to find a housing space. The housing is often full, leading to waitlisting, after what can be a longer process to be referred to the housing in the first place. “[The Quest Center] house stays relatively full,” says Hannah Leyshon, Housing Services Manager with Bridges to Change.
However, the Quest Center seeks to avoid waitlisting as much as possible. Moore recognizes that the situation can be urgent, and adds that “we try to meet them immediately as we can.”
While youth under 18 may not be able to use the Quest Center, there are other resources available that help LGBTQ+ students and teenagers.
There are some other groups in the area that help give peer support for those who have previously lacked it. Franklin’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance club (SAGA) meets at lunch in room S-027 each Wednesday, giving LGBTQ+ students a safe space to talk. “It’s definitely nice to be a part of a space where I can truly feel comfortable,” says SAGA member Avery Jorgenson (12). “No one here is gonna judge me for being who I am,” he adds.
Inpatient mental health treatment is available through the Unity Center for Behavioral Health for those aged 9-17 years old, according to the Unity Center website. Cascadia Health provides mental health treatment as well.Franklin SAGA member Ian Bailey (12) recommends the Trevor Project and the Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC), which help young LGBTQ+ people and offer support with mental health. The Trevor Project provides instant help 24 hours per day. It can be reached by calling 1-866-488-7386, texting ‘START’ to 678-678, or accessing the chat feature via the site at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help/.