A shelter for families fleeing domestic violence reopened in Clackamas County Feb. 13 after a year-long expansion project.
Clackamas Women's Services (CWS) cut the ribbon at The Village, its rebuilt emergency shelter for 15 families fleeing domestic and sexual violence. The 32-year-old shelter had been closed for over a year during the reconstruction of the building. Stakeholders and community partners gathered to commemorate the opening of the much needed safe housing for escaping violence, funded by a $1.8 million capital campaign.
"We are all so grateful to now have a shelter house whose design truly reflects the Village Model of emergency shelter for survivors escaping domestic and sexual violence," said Executive Director Melissa Erlbaum. "This new building will allow the case managers at Clackamas Women's Services to better integrate with participants, building that sense of community that breaks the isolation of abuse. And I am so inspired by the broader community of supporters, from households to foundations to local businesses, who made this possible."
The renovation was supported by many partners, inlcuding the Home Builders Foundation (HBF), the charitable arm of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, which donated materials and labor.
"Home Builders Foundation is proud of the amazing partnerships that made this project possible. From the great support of Clackamas County, to members of the Home Builders Association and others in the building community, to Home Builders Foundation and Clackamas Women's Services. It was definitely a team effort. Over seventy trade partners came together to donate or heavily discount labor and materials for the project. It is a beautiful, safe and dignified place for women and children escaping family violence and domestic abuse and HBF is proud to have been involved from the beginning of this project," said Brenda Ketah, executive director of the Home Builders Foundation.
The CWS shelter first opened its doors to domestic violence survivors in 1986. After many years of sheltering families, the program outgrew the existing structure. The new home, called The Village, continues the core services of the previous shelter while expanding services and space for families.
CWS and the Home Builders Foundation broke ground on the project in fall of 2016. Since then the home builder community and two jurisdictions have supported the project with nearly $1 million through in-kind support and donors to CWS have contributed $665,884 in a one-time special capital campaign. These funders include the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, Oregon Community Fund, Mike and Kay Wells, The Silvey Family Foundation, PCC Structurals, Providence Health and Services, Benchmade Knife Company, The Ash Grove Charitable Foundation, and Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation among many others.
Each room of the new shelter was designed specifically with trauma survivors in mind. According to CWS, despite its size, the shelter feels like a cheery and welcoming home, with bright paint colors, hardwood floors and lots of natural light.
The house is a mixture of private family rooms and communal kitchen and living room spaces designed to help build connection among survivors and break the isolation typically associated with domestic violence.
The rebuild incorporates an expanded play room for children and a new room for teens, a multipurpose meeting space for support groups, art therapy, or yoga, and separate entrance for past shelter residents to return to the community they were part of after moving out to live on their own.
Shelter space for domestic and sexual violence survivors is much needed in Portland area and throughout the country, with domestic violence being the third largest cause of homelessness among women. Without safe space for families to escape to, survivors are often left to choose between remaining with an abusive partner or leaving into homelessness. With three women killed each day in the U.S. by a current or former intimate partner, a safe space to land is imperative in keeping families and larger communities safe.
Survivors will be able to move into The Village as soon as tours for partnering agencies and the finishing touches on the space are complete. If an individual is experiencing domestic or sexual violence and in need of shelter, they can connect with a confidential CWS advocate at A Safe Place Family Justice Center, open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 24-hour crisis line is 1-888-654-2288. To learn more, visit cwsor.org.