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Our History


Central City Concern’s roots trace back to 1979, when Portland was seeking solutions to help people on the street who were incapacitated by alcohol use disorder. The agency (originally called Burnside Consortium) was charged with funding local recovery treatment providers and preserving Old Town’s housing stock. We channeled federal funds to social service agencies and listened to the residents of Old Town’s hotels to identify their needs and develop a sense of community. Within a year, we pioneered an integrated system of compassionate care in Old Town that would become a model for the country.

Image of Portland in the 70s


Early on, it was clear that safe housing was paramount for those in recovery and to the neighborhood at large. We adopted a strategy of purchasing and renovating historic buildings to ensure safe, well-maintained units and protect residents from rising rental costs. CCC purchased the Butte Hotel in 1982 through collaboration with federal, local and private funders — followed soon after by the Medford, Golden West, Estate, Sally McCracken and Henry buildings. Our work in renovating and managing urban single-room occupancy housing set the standard for other nonprofit housing organizations and attracted national attention.

In 1982, we assumed management of the Hooper Detoxification Stabilization Center and quickly integrated innovative practices such as acupuncture, primary health care, and alcohol- and drug-free community housing. CCC’s continuum of care began to materialize at scattered sites throughout Old Town.

Exterior image of building ccc purchased in the 80s
Medial working taking blood pressure of another woman in the 80s
Collage photo of history of early 80s at ccc


To further support clients’ transformations to full self-sufficiency, in the early 1990s CCC added employment training and work opportunity programs. In laying the groundwork for today’s Employment Access Center, Clean Start and Central City Staffing programs, we began addressing major barriers to employment such as chronic homelessness, criminal histories, addiction and gaps in employment. From the beginning, we’ve been committed to hiring individuals who have participated in our programming and share lived experience with our clients — a practice that has cultivated a deep and lasting culture of compassion within the organization. In the late ‘90s, the Recovery Mentor Program grew out of that belief in the value of shared experience.

In 1997, CCC took over management of the Letty Owings Center, a residential treatment home for pregnant and new mothers. Soon, we began our Family Housing Program, alcohol- and drug-free communities where families continue healing and thriving together.

Two men standing in front of CCC jobs program sign in the 90s
Woman standing in front of CCC job program sign in the 90s


In 2001, we assumed management of the Old Town Clinic, which had provided health care to Portland’s homeless population since 1983. The clinic completed our treatment continuum, proving that someone with a safe place to sleep, positive peer relationships, employment assistance and quality physical and mental health care had a better chance to beat their addiction and transform their life.

CCC continued listening, responding to and drawing on the experience and knowledge of underserved communities to address barriers to care. In 2005, we started Puentes, a recovery program for the Latinx community led by bilingual and bicultural individuals and grounded in shared Latinx values. In 2015, the Imani Center opened to provide mental health and addiction treatment services and build a community of support for African Americans who may face barriers to mainstream treatment.

Collage photo of history at Old Town Clinic


When we opened the Old Town Recovery Center next to Old Town Clinic in 2011, CCC became better able to address the chronic, severe mental and behavioral health issues that confront many of our clients. The programs’ shared proximity meant clients could receive integrated primary care, pharmacy services, recovery support, counseling and more in one place.

In 2019, our vision of wraparound services culminated in the opening of Blackburn Center in East Portland. The center brings integrated primary care services, mental health and addiction treatment, pharmacy services, employment assistance, housing and comprehensive case management together under one roof.

From 2010 on, we opened six new affordable housing buildings for individuals and families across the Portland metro area. Ranging from low-barrier transitional housing to alcohol- and drug-free community buildings to apartments for working individuals, these buildings are part of CCC’s continued commitment to affordable, accessible and safe homes for all.

Two people cutting large red ribbon with large scissors
Person cuts ribbon at Hazel Heights grand opening

On the horizon

CCC uses population-based research to determine who needs our services, and where. Long known as an Old Town-based organization, we’re strategically expanding our footprint to serve people facing homelessness throughout the metro area. We also strive to correct deficiencies in previous recovery models and historic discrimination against Black, Indigenous and people of color in Portland by expanding culturally specific programs and actively working to become an anti-racist organization.

As we look to the future, we will continue responding to the needs of our neighbors with caring, innovative services that address the whole person and elevate the entire community.

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