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OR Still Lags in Emergency Housing for Domestic-Violence Victims

October 15, 2013

SALEM, Ore. – It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and again this year there isn't enough emergency shelter for the numbers of people who need it in Oregon.

At the MidValley Women's Crisis Center in Salem, requests for emergency housing have doubled in the past four years. But state funding remains at the same level as in 2007, and the Legislature turned down a request for more money earlier this year.

Jayne Downing, MidValley's executive director, says state dollars are only part of a shelter's budget – but a very important part.

"I think it sends a critical message of saying, 'We understand that this is an issue in our community and we're going to address it, we're going to take it on – and make sure that there are the resources so no one has to live with violence,'" she says.

In some areas, affordable-housing developers have teamed up with emergency shelter providers to transition more families out of packed shelters and into more permanent housing.

In Corvallis, Jim Moorefield, executive director of Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, says 10 percent of the housing his organization develops is set aside specifically for people who are homeless.

"The quality of the housing, the affordability of it, has everything to do with people's ability to get by, and to thrive – and to build new lives,” he says. “When you have someone who's homeless, who's a survivor of domestic violence, a lot of things have to come together to make that person and that family successful."

As many as six in 10 women who are homeless have been affected by domestic violence. Their advocates say Oregon's State Homeless Assistance Program and the Emergency Housing Account both have worked well, but are chronically under-funded. They plan to ask for an additional $2 million a year for the programs, in the coming legislative session.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR