Teaming up With CAHOOTS to Help People in Crisis

There’s a common misperception that nonprofits don’t partner with other organizations. For ShelterCare, this is far from true. We value our strong community partnerships, because only by collaborating will we solve a problem as complex as homelessness. Together, we extend the reach of our collective services and come closer to realizing our shared vision of a community where everyone is housed and living the best life possible.

cahootsnotitleOne of our valued partners is CAHOOTS, a diverse collective of people committed to providing compassionate care. The acronym stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, and it describes a mobile crisis intervention team that serves the cities of Eugene and Springfield.

Providing services that are confidential and voluntary, CAHOOTS is funded by the City of Eugene and the State of Oregon, and staffed and managed by White Bird Clinic. Each CAHOOTS team consists of a medic and a crisis worker with extensive training and experience in the mental health field, which is highly valuable in situations where someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. CAHOOTS workers can often help de-escalate a situation and get someone the help they need without dispatching a police officer. This saves the city money and resources.

Many CAHOOTS clients are homeless. To help them stabilize after a mental health crisis or other emergency, ShelterCare has two units at our Housing, Health and Wellness facility that are dedicated for use by CAHOOTS for its clients.

The ShelterCare-CAHOOTS partnership was formed because there is a shortage of emergency housing in Eugene. CAHOOTS team members often need a safe place for their clients, and housing people in crisis is an area where ShelterCare specializes.

The ShelterCare units are available to CAHOOTS year-round and CAHOOTS has total discretion over how the units are used. ShelterCare and White Bird work in collaboration to help connect occupants with appropriate services. For example, several people who currently live in ShelterCare’s Supported Housing program began their journey toward independence and stability with a stay in one of the CAHOOTS-dedicated units.

Susan Ban, ShelterCare executive director, is proud of the partnership between ShelterCare and CAHOOTS. “Some community challenges are so complex that only when we respond in partnership with others can we make an impact,” she said. “ShelterCare and White Bird have coordinated services for many years and it is apparent that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when we work together.”

To learn more about CAHOOTS mobile crisis intervention service visit

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