a syringe with brown chemical on a wooden table
Oregon Health Authority officials want to recover more than $1 million the state awarded a Klamath Falls organization to help people with drug addictions. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION/Pexels.com)

The Oregon Health Authority has failed to recoup more than $1 million of Measure 110 grant money – nearly five months after the state terminated its contract with a Klamath Falls provider over mismanagement of funds.

In May, the authority’s Measure 110 oversight committee ended its grant agreement with the organization, Red is the Road to Wellness, over misused money. This marked the first time the state had canceled a contract tied to Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs and put a share of cannabis revenue toward addiction treatment and programs. Since voters passed the measure in 2020, the state has put more than $260 million into 233 programs, including this one.

In August 2022, the authority awarded the organization a $1.55 million contract to help people access housing, outpatient addiction treatment and vocational training. The agency gave the provider $1.08 million, records show.

But it received complaints that the organization had misspent money, including failing to help people in recovery find jobs. The organization also failed to submit expenditure reports in December 2022 and March, the health authority said.

Health authority officials demanded that Red is the Road to Wellness refund the money by Oct. 2. That deadline has passed and the organization has not paid the money back, said Tim Heider, a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority.

Heider said the health authority is working with the Oregon Department of Justice’s Civil Enforcement Division to “determine next steps for recovering the funds owed.”  Heider had no other details, nor did a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Justice on the state’s options.

Jennifer Davie, executive director for Red is the Road to Wellness, declined to comment to the Capital Chronicle about the issue. 

In September, the health authority’s oversight committee terminated two other Measure 110 grant agreements, one with a Multnomah County provider and another in Malheur County, after receiving complaints about mismanagement. 

Those grants totaled $1.2 million. Bright Transitions in Portland received $717,000 to run a home for people with addictions. Origins Faith Community, an Ontario-based church, received $513,460 to provide counselors at a meal service.

In both cases, health authority officials still are determining how much money they owe. 

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report.