What can Wichita, Kansas, learn from Eugene’s mental health model?

EUGENE, Oregon – In Josie McCarthy’s 17 years as a program manager at The Dining Room, she says she has never needed to call police to break up violence or disputes. The dine-in restaurant serves 1,000 meals per week to low-income and unhoused people in downtown Eugene, Oregon. Servers deliver steaming plates of food to booths and counter seats inside the cozy, colorful building.

But when a diner refuses to leave, shows up without shoes, or is disoriented or agitated, McCarthy has a few different options. She can either use her training as a social worker to resolve the situation. Or, she can request backup from the city’s mobile intervention unit called Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS).

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By Amelia Arvesen, Wichita Journalism Collaborative