© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Eugene's walk-in crisis center shuts down after 8 years

TIP volunteers are ready 24/7 to offer a warm hand to fellow residents suffering immediately after a traumatic event.
Alvin Mahmudov
ColumbiaCare shut down the Hourglass Community Crisis Center in Eugene on Mar. 29, alongside a residential treatment facility in Portland.

A walk-in crisis center in Eugene has shut down after 8 years in operation.

The Hourglass Community Crisis Center was run by ColumbiaCare. The program offered free support for trauma, suicidal ideation and other issues of wellbeing.

Timothy Black, ColumbiaCare’s Regional Administrator for Lane County, said this could mean providing a quiet space, an empathetic listener, or help locating social services and shelter.

“It's up to each individual to define for themselves what a crisis means for them at that moment,” said Black. “Our goal is to reduce barriers and to meet people where they are.”

Hourglass had private funding and support from Lane County, and at one point operated 24-hours-a-day. But on Friday, its doors closed for good.

The move comes after what Black described as years of operating with a large financial deficit, and struggles to recruit the master’s-level clinicians that state law requires for every shift. Previously in October, the facility eliminated its overnight hours due to staffing shortages.

“It's hard to find folks who have that level of experience and those credentials who are willing to stay up all night long,” said Black.

Now that the center is gone, Black said organizations like White Bird and Looking Glass may help fill the gap in Eugene. But he said no direct replacement remains.

He said the closure comes despite a rising demand for services like these, with the center seeing anywhere from 150 to 300 walk-ins each month.

“It's hard knowing that we won't be there,” said Black. “Those folks that are waiting on our doorstep when we open because they've been in crisis all night long—I don't know what tomorrow is going to look like for them.”

The closed-down location of the Hourglass Community Crisis Center on Apr. 1, 2024.
Nathan Wilk
The closed-down location of the Hourglass Community Crisis Center on Apr. 1.

Another Shutdown, and the Union Responds

On the same day that the crisis center in Eugene closed, ColumbiaCare also shut down Halsey Street SRTF, a residential treatment facility in Portland. The non-profit cited staffing shortages.

Victoria Chaney, a spokesperson for ColumbiaCare’s unionized workers, blames the provider’s recruitment issues on a failure to address employee’s safety concerns, as well as lack of incentives for overnight shifts.

"We've just seen a lot of reduction in the investment into the resources needed in order to provide a high quality of care for our clients," said Chaney.

Hourglass staff weren’t part of the vote to unionize last month, but Chaney said it had been the plan to include them in the near future. Following these two closures, she said remaining employees are left wondering if their jobs are next.

“It's been traumatic and nerve wracking for everybody across the entire company,” said Chaney. “And I think whether or not that was the intention—to create an atmosphere of fear and compliance—that's absolutely been the impact.”

In a statement by email, ColumbiaCare spokesperson Jennifer Sewtisky said neither of the recent closures were in any way motivated by unionization efforts. Additionally, she said client and caregiver safety are the provider's top priorities.

“We acknowledge that any closure is really difficult for our ColumbiaCare community,” wrote Sewtisky, “and we are thankful to our staff and teams for the work that went into supporting our residents over the years, as well as through this time of transition.”

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.