Women's shelter coming to downtown Gresham
A regional nonprofit organization is bringing transitional housing and support services for women experiencing homelessness, trauma and addiction into an abandoned building near downtown Gresham.
"This is intended to serve women facing mental health problems, homelessness and issues stemming from addiction," said Monta Knudson, executive director of Bridges to Change, the group behind the project.
Women will live 24/7 at the planned housing facility at 100 S.E. Cleveland St., in an abandoned building that used to serve as a dialysis clinic.
The location will always be staffed, with an intent to stabilize the women and help them become successful members of the community.
"I'm really excited about having this facility in Gresham serving women," said Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann. "Bridges to Change has a great track record. They will be perfect neighbors."
At-risk women will be identified by partners in Multnomah County's parole system, and the women served will all be from East Multnomah County.
In total, there will be 38 beds, though it will be rare for the shelter to operate at capacity. An average stay for a woman at the facility would be between three to six months.
Organizers behind the facility are confident it will be a positive addition to the community. The abandoned building has been a regular camp for the homeless, so occupying the location is expected to improve conditions in the immediate area.
The plan is for women staying there to go on day trips around the community to help complete projects. They will engage in tasks at the shelter like cooking and cleaning, and will have classes to learn life skills.
"Most of the women leaving here will become self-sufficient and will have permanent housing," said Shelly Mead, operations director.
During a meeting planned as an opportunity for surrounding property owners to talk with those behind the shelter Tuesday night, Feb.13, only one woman attended. She said she was excited about the plan, seeing it as a chance to help those struggling in the community.
The next step is an application for change of use, which is needed to convert the existing space from a commercial clinic into a housing facility. The plan involves few changes to the exterior of the building aside from a fresh coat of paint. But the interior needs a good bit of work done, project organizers noted.
If things continue to go as planned, the shelter should be completed in mid July.
"There are no services for women," Stegmann said. "Anytime we can connect them to the right resources is a great idea."
Bridges to Change was founded in 2004, and has since worked to strengthen individuals and families affected by addiction, mental health, poverty and homelessness.