Nonprofit Newswire | Youth Mental Health Program: To be Evicted for Being State of the Art?

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July 25, 2010; Source: The News Review | This fight between the city of Winston, Ore. and the nonprofit Riverside Center has overtones of municipal hostility to nonprofit services.  Winston gave the nonprofit a building on a 3.75-acre site with a deed containing a reverter clause allowing the city to take back the building if the Riverside Center were no longer “operating on a nonprofit basis a diagnosis treatment and care facility for handicapped adolescents.”  

The City wants the building back, claiming that the clause, drafted in 1993, has been violated.  In the years since 1993, the Riverside Center has formed partnerships with other nonprofits to better deliver services to students with mental health problems.  Part of the issue may be that the Riverside Center and its nonprofit partners are providing assistance to young people with dual diagnoses of mental health and substance abuse (“co-occurring”) disorders.  Riverside also wants other services to move into the building, including a community health clinic and a Head Start program.  

The shift to treating teens with dual diagnoses may be the triggering event that has prompted the city to try to take back the building.  In 1993 in Winston, Ore. maybe the prevailing wisdom was not to treat mental health and substance abuse issues as a single, co-occurring disorder.  It’s best practice now. It appears that the services provided by the Riverside Center and its partners have evolved with the times.  Perhaps the city of Winston needs to evolve in its understanding about the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services.—Rick Cohen