Outside In (organization)

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Outside In
Outside In social services agency (Portland, Oregon - 22 September 2006).jpg
The exterior of the organization in 2006
MottoThe Point of Return
  • Portland, Oregon
Executive Director[1]
Patricia Patrón[1]
Budget (2018)
$12 million

Outside In is a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon, United States that provides social and medical services to homeless youth and other marginalized people (including the LGBTQ community)[2] so that they can improve their health and move towards self-sufficiency.[3] Founded in the late 1960s to serve youth, the organization has since continued to revise its services to meet the needs of its clients.[4][5] Today the organization's services include medical care, mobile medical vans, tattoo removal, housing, education, counseling, and job training.[1]


Outside In was founded in June 1968 by Dr. Charles Spray, Arnold Goldberg, and Mary Lu Zurcher as one of the first free community health clinics in the U.S. and one of the earliest on the West Coast, along with the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics and the Los Angeles Free Clinic.[4][6][7] The organization was founded to serve Portland's "alienated youth", some of whom had substance abuse problems and most of whom had mental health issues.[5] It initially rented its Downtown Portland space from the First Unitarian Church of Portland.[5] Spray helped found the organization after learning that the Unitarian church's youth coffeehouse space, Charix, was in danger of being shut down by the city and a group that had successfully shut down the Crystal Ballroom music venue because of its association with the 1960s drug culture.[7]

Some of the group's early work involved staffing a 24-hour crisis hotline that was later spun off to form the Metro Crisis Intervention Service.[6]


Outside In is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a licensed mental health agency.[4] In 2013–2014, the organization served 966 youth with mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, employment, education, job training, and housing.[8] Outside In's medical clinic was the medical home for 5,384 people in 2014.[8] The same year, the group's syringe exchange served 4,322 people.[8] The syringe exchange, implemented in 1989, was the first one to be developed and the third to go into operation in the country.[9]

Community Objection[edit]

The needle exchange program offered through Outside In and Multnomah County was the subject of a grievance by the adjacent neighborhood Goose Hollow Foothills League due to concerns that needles handed out by Outside In are littered in Goose Hollow by its drug addict clients. The neighborhood association sent a letter on the matter of needles and other supplies given out by Outside In to a Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran in February 2018. This letter was published in part in Portland Tribune

"We are drowning in the needles put out into the community by Multnomah County," said a letter complaining about the health department program that was sent to Commissioner Sharon Meieran by the Goose Hollow Foothills League last month. "Our residents are picking up hundreds of needles each week," the letter states. "Our neighborhood has experienced a shocking increase in unsafe and unsanitary levels of needles since MCHD started this program ... while keeping drug addicts safer, MCHD is risking the health of thousands more with this program. "Our neighborhood is also filled with bloody cotton balls and feces-covered wipes that were given out at Outside In," added the letter, which was signed by Tracy Prince, the league's vice chair. "It is humane and necessary to hand out these items, but MCHD should put a plan in place so that these items aren't disposed of in our neighborhoods."[10]

Medical services[edit]

In addition to the FQHC, Outside In's medical clinic operates two medical outreach vans and a school-based health center at Milwaukie High School.[11]

Naloxone training[edit]

In 2013, Outside In worked with the Multnomah County Health Department to pass SB 384, a bill in the Oregon State Legislature that increased community access to naloxone, a drug that reverses opiate overdose.[12][13] On the afternoon of June 6, 2013,[13] the day Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed the bill into law, Outside In staff began training its staff and syringe exchange clients in naloxone use and distributing the medication.[12] In seven months it was reported by trainees that 239 overdoses had been prevented by administration of naloxone.[12] In 2013–2014, Outside In had provided 767 naloxone trainings and 329 overdose reversals were reported.[8]

Job training programs[edit]

Outside In operates a nonprofit dog daycare center, Virginia Woof, that provides job training for youth.[14] The daycare, which opened in 2005, receives funding from the Meyer Memorial Trust and has gained recognition from the United States Department of Labor for being the only pet daycare in the nation that is both not-for-profit and serving as a job training program.[15][16][17]

"Bespoke" is bicycle-powered smoothie cart set up in Portland's O'Bryant Square park that gives homeless youth on-the-job training.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ritchie, Rachel (October 23, 2014). "Lifetime Achievement: Kathy Oliver of Outside In". Portland Monthly. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  2. ^ Morris, Alex (September 3, 2014). "The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Outside In". Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "About Us". Outside In. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Turner, Kernan R. (July 24, 1969). "Outside-In Director Can Cite Ear-Ringing Drug Statistics". The Register-Guard. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Outside In Clinic celebrates 20 Years of Health, Social Services". The Oregonian. September 9, 1988. Retrieved December 1, 2015 – via Mental Health Portland.
  7. ^ a b Olsen, Polina (2012). Outside In From the Ground Up. Portland in the 1960s: Stories from the Counterculture. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 77–79. ISBN 9781609494711.
  8. ^ a b c d "Director's Data Report: 2013–2014" (PDF). Outside In. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  9. ^ Hugh Barton, Susan Thompson, Sarah Burgess, Marcus Grant, eds. (2015). The Routledge Handbook of Planning for Health and Well-Being. Routledge.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  10. ^ Budnick, Nick (March 8, 2018). "Used syringes litter Portland as needle exchanges grow". Portland Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  11. ^ "Medical Services". Outside In. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "Multnomah County 2014 Public Health Heroes". Multnomah County. April 18, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Bill Tracker 2013 Session: Senate Bill 384". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Virginia Woof". Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  15. ^ Balas, Monique (November 12, 2011). "Pet Talk: Day Care Serves Dogs, Trains People". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  16. ^ "Providing Employment and Training Services to Homeless and Runaway Youth" (PDF). U.S. Department of Labor. January 6, 2006. p. 4. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  17. ^ "A Hand and Paw Partnership Benefits Homeless Youth". United States Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  18. ^ Binder, Melissa (September 23, 2014). "Homeless Youth Get Job Experience Making Bike-Powered Smoothies for 'Social Juice-stice'". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 1, 2015.

External links[edit]