PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood is receiving a $2 million federal grant to develop a non-law enforcement response to low-level crime, Multnomah County announced Monday.
The three-year grant for the Reimagining Justice Project will start with a one-year planning period for residents to find solutions to public safety issues they experience in the neighborhood, officials said.
A county spokesperson told KOIN 6 News that the program will not focus on violent or gun crime. The county noted public safety staff will ensure residents and community organizations participating in the program are familiar with other interventions, like Portland Street Response, to avoid duplication.
According to Multnomah County, the Cully neighborhood was selected based on neighborhood support, an analysis of crime rates, and efforts to aid ongoing efforts for the Reimagining Justice Project.
Based on 2020-2022 census data, officials found that the neighborhood is 48.5% white compared to 64.2% of the entire city of Portland. Cully also has a higher percentage of Latine, Black, and Native residents and a higher percentage of residents under 18.
Overall offenses in the neighborhood dropped “dramatically,” during the COVID pandemic, but has since rebounded, according to data submitted to the Department of Justice’s National Incident-Based Reporting System.
“I’m excited we have secured this federal grant that will allow Cully residents to develop their own unique solutions to their public safety concerns,” Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal said. “Everyone deserves to feel safe and see accountability in their neighborhood, and this project provides an opportunity for those living in Cully to determine what that looks like.”
The county said this marks the first opportunity to implement strategies from its Transforming Justice Visioning Project, which focuses on behavioral health services, medical treatment, housing, and employment.
“This grant allows us to allocate funds to the community to create place-based solutions to public safety, deploy interventions that reduce harm and use the criminal legal system in a more limited way, and prioritize community-building between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods they patrol,” said Abbey Stamp, Executive Director of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council.
Officials said given systemic disparities, at least 40% of funds will be given to organizations that serve communities of color, noting the Native American Youth and Family Center is the lead partner agency to the Reimagining Justice Project.
NAYA Interim CEO Oscar Arana said, “gun violence and lower-level crimes have negatively impacted community safety, particularly for Native American, Black, and people of color residents who fear and distrust traditional law enforcement.”
Arana added, “this project aligns with our vision and commitment to the safety and wellbeing of Native American youth and families. Our aim is to explore alternative approaches to public safety that respect cultural identity and address community needs.”
The county says the project will have independent oversight over the three years and will be evaluated for similar models in other neighborhoods.