Peer Support Specialist

City of Portland, Oregon
July 21, 2021
Portland, OR
Job Type


The Position

Portland Street Response is seeking to fill two positions for Peer Support Specialist.

These are Limited Duration positions with the term ending June 30, 2022. Persons appointed to limited term positions will be designated as limited duration employees whose appointment shall not exceed two (2) years except for the extension of grants or funding from outside sources.
About Portland Street Response (PSR):
Portland Street Response is designed to serve as a third branch of the City of Portland's first responder system: Police, Fire, and Portland Street Response. The Bureau of Emergency Communications' (BOEC) role will be to dispatch Police, Fire, or AMR if the call relates to saving a life, reporting a fire, a medical emergency, or reporting a crime. For other non-life-threatening (but crisis-related) scenarios currently responded to by Police and Fire (such as behavioral health issues and welfare checks) Portland Street Response will be dispatched as an unarmed, first responder team, trained in behavioral health and on-scene medical assistance.

Two primary benefits of creating this new branch of first responders for non-life-threatening but crisis-related calls are:

  1. Enables the City of Portland to free up Police and Fire resources to attend to life saving and crime-related calls for help; and
  2. Provides quick and compassionate response by trauma informed members trained in crisis management, emergency medicine, and behavioral health.

This program is expected to:

  1. Reduce the number of calls traditionally responded to by Police where criminal activity is not present.
  2. Reduce the number of individuals transported to the emergency department for low acuity medical related issues that could instead be addressed in a pre-hospital care setting.
  3. Reduce the number of behavioral health and lower acuity medical calls traditionally responded to by Police and Fire.

Portland City Council voted in favor of funding a year-long pilot, meaning this is a temporary position that will be contracted for one year. This person will report to the Portland Street Response Program Manager.

General Function:
The Peer Support Specialist (PSS) serves alongside a Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Mental Health Crisis Responder, responding to low-acuity, non-life threatening 911 calls pertaining to behavioral health, substance use, and/or welfare checks. In addition to co-responding to 911 calls, the PSS will follow up with individuals as needed and provide support, advocacy, and/or education in overall health and wellness. A key function of the PSS that differentiates this role apart from the rest of the team, is the responsibility to serve as a liaison or link between health/social services and the community. The PSS facilitates access to social services and agencies through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Meet with peers in the community and/or their homes to establish and maintain a positive and trusting relationship that is person-centered, strengths-based, and trauma-informed;
  • Attend and participate in team meetings to gain knowledge and communicate program goals and the needs of the individuals being served, to include integrating peer voice in planning, policy, and evaluation;
  • Assist peers with identifying and engaging various community resources and supports.
  • Offer peers educational opportunities to explore new resources, information, and alternatives to utilizing the emergency department for non-emergent needs;
  • Documents support services in a program database in a manner that assures compliance with policies, program procedures and local, state, and federal regulations. Maintains accurate and up-to-date documentation as required by program deliverables;
  • Acts as an advocate for individuals being served when appropriate, both within the organization and also with other entities;
  • Follows-up to assure that connections are made to services and supports based on peer choice;
  • Facilitates warm handoffs to other services as needed.

Anticipated Schedules

  • Position #1 - Thursday thru Sunday, 5:30 PM to 3:30 AM
  • Position #2 - Tuesday thru Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • **Schedules are subject to change during the pilot year

City of Portland Core Values: Anti-racism | Communication | Collaboration | Equity | Transparency | Fiscal Responsibility
These values guide our actions as we serve the community and engage our workforce. To learn more about the City's core values, please click here .

Why work at the City of Portland?
The City of Portland workforce serves a population of over 650,000. We are culture- and solutions-driven, viewing every challenge as an opportunity to learn, improve, and share our expertise. We are committed to removing systemic barriers to resources, access, and opportunity. The City is a believer in ALL people and continues to actively recruit and retain diverse top talent every day. We offer a comprehensive benefits package, including but not limited to medical, dental, vision, basic life, short- and long-term disability coverage to eligible employees and their families. If you are open-minded, motivated, community-focused, and self-aware, please apply yourself at the City of Portland today.

To Qualify

Applicants must specifically address and demonstrate in their cover letter and résumé how their education, training, work experience, and/or lived experience, meets each of the following minimum qualifications:

  1. Experience demonstrating courteousness and empathy in a wide variety of settings, particularly when working with clients/community;
  2. Experience working with diverse groups and clear understanding of cultural differences, especially as they relate to race, sexual orientation, gender-identity, socio-economic status, etc. and their intersections; Ability to identify one's own bias and remedy microaggressions.
  3. Ability to maintain appropriate boundaries and ethics;
  4. Ability to share experience of own path to wellness and inspire hope;
  5. Ability to work effectively and collaboratively with colleagues of differing disciplines and in a variety of settings. May include, but are not limited to first responders, health agencies, and community services and organizations;
  6. Ability to observe and recognize escalation by clients and to effectively respond and mitigate these issues when they emerge;
  7. Respects privacy and understands mandatory reporting.

Applicants Must Also Possess the Following:

(At least one of the following certifications is required but may be applied for within one month of hire. Applicants may have more than one):

  • Certified Peer Support Specialist by Oregon Health Authority or comparable jurisdiction - Or-
  • Certified Peer Wellness Specialist by Oregon Health Authority or comparable jurisdiction - Or-
  • MHACBO Certified Recovery Mentor certification


  • One year of community-based experience providing advocacy and support which has included significant public contact;
  • Personal lived experience with mental health, substance use, and/or houselessness/housing insecurity;

Desired Qualifications:

  • Bi-lingual fluency;
  • Experience working with or representative of diverse communities (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, LGBTQ+, immigrant and/or refugee communities, etc.); or
  • Experience in on-call, crisis, or emergency response.

The Recruitment Process

An evaluation of each applicant's training and experience, as demonstrated in their resume and cover letter, weighted 100%. Do not attach materials not requested . Only candidates who meet the minimum qualifications will be placed on the equally ranked eligible list. You have 14 days from the notice of the examination results to let us know if you disagree with your results. Please read the City of Portland Administrative Rule 3.01 for complete information. Additional evaluation may be required prior to establishment of the eligible list and/or final selection.

** PLEASE NOTE : The eligible list generated from this recruitment may be used to fill future vacancies**

Recruitment Timeline:

  • Posting: 07/19/21 - 08/02/21
  • Applications Reviewed: 08/02/21 - 08/09/21
  • Eligible List: week of 08/09/21
  • Selection Phase Begins: week of 08/16/21
  • Job Offer: September 2021

**Timeline is approximate and subject to change without notice**

Application Instructions
Applicants must submit a professional résumé and a cover letter specifically focused on your qualifications for this position as identified in the "To Qualify" section of this announcement in accordance with the following application instructions:

  • Your résumé and cover letter will be the basis for our evaluation of your qualifications for this position. Incomplete or inappropriate information may result in disqualification.
  • Your cover letter should include details describing your education, training and/or experience, and where obtained which clearly reflects your qualifications.
  • Your résumé should support the details described in your cover letter.
  • If you are requesting Veteran's Preference, as identified below, please describe in your cover letter and résumé any transferrable skills obtained during your military service and how they relate to each of the required minimum qualifications under the "To Qualify" section above.
  • All completed applications for this position must be submitted no later than the closing date and time of this recruitment.
  • E-mailed and/or faxed applications will not be accepted .

Additional Information

Work Status: Non-citizen applicants must be authorized to work in the United States at the time of application.

Veterans' Preference: If you are requesting Veterans' Preference, attach a copy of your DD214/DD215 and/or Veterans Administration letter stating your disability to your profile, as well as checking the box identifying yourself as a Veteran. You must request Veterans' Preference AND include a copy of your documentation for each recruitment to which you apply. Veterans' Preference documentation must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on the closing date of this recruitment.

ADA, Pregnancy, and Religious Accommodations: If you identify as a person with a disability, are pregnant or nursing, or observe a religious practice(s), and would like to request a reasonable accommodation when applying for this job, please contact the Recruiter below for assistance.

Equal Employment Opportunity: It is the policy of the City of Portland that no person shall be discriminated against based on race, religion, color, sex, marital status, family status, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or source of income. The City values diversity and encourages everyone who is interested in employment with the City to apply.

Did you know? The City of Portland offers How to Apply Classes that are free and review best practices for applying to the City. Follow the link for the most recent list of scheduled dates: .

John DiGrazia, Senior Recruiter

Bureau of Human Resources
(503) 823-4034Closing Date/Time: 8/2/2021 11:59 PM Pacific

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