In the community

Lifeways gets federal funding boost to open new crisis center in Ontario

ONTARIO – A major Malheur County mental health provider received additional government funding to open a first-of-its-kind behavioral crisis center.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Oregon Democrats, announced on Monday, March 25, that nearly $1 million for Lifeways to construct a medical center in Malheur County.

“This much needed facility will help individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders with services including 24-hour crisis assessments and interventions, counseling, mobile crisis services, peer support, and connection to community resources,” the press release noted.

The center would also train law enforcement and community partners, the press release added.

In addition to the $978,000 in federal funding, Lifeways recently was awarded $5.75 million by the Legislature to build the behavioral crisis center in Ontario.

Steve Jensen, chief executive of Lifeways, said Lifeways leaders are assessing three locations for the crisis center and will decide by the end of April.

One option would be to rent space at the largely empty Westpark Plaza Mall. The mall space would allow Lifeways to partner with other providers, such as medical or dental services, Jensen said.  According to Jensen, the only drawback of the location owned by an out-of-state investment company is that it would require remodeling.

Other options include building a new facility on a vacant lot the organization owns near its current headquarters or a remodel in the state Department of Motor Vehicles building it owns that is adjacent its main location on Sunset Drive.

Jensen said Lifeways notified the state nearly two years ago that it would not extend the lease  past June.

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