Shelter 130 Portlanders escaping domestic violence

by Raphael House of Portland
Vetted
Sweet note by one of our youngest residents
Sweet note by one of our youngest residents

We completed our fiscal year on June 30 of this year and recently finished evaluating our programs and services and numbers served.  Thanks to your generous support, our shelter was able to accomplish the following last year:

  • Our emergency shelter housed 49 adults and 59 children.
  • 100% of residents developed a safety plan.
  • 94% completed two or more of their goals.
  • 80% moved to a safe living situation when they exited our shelter.
  • The average length of stay was two and a half months.
  • The 24-hour shelter access line provided support to 1,031 callers.

Feedback from current and past residents continues to show that our unique engagement model, implemented during the second half of 2014, continues to improve our impact on survivors. Residents may stay up to six months, based on their progress towards individualized goals designed to help them achieve permanent housing, employment, and self-sufficiency. This is successfully helping survivors establish an integrated network of support and community.

Thank you again for your support of Raphael House. Your assistance helps provide long-term stability for the individuals and families we serve.

These berries were harvested and shared
These berries were harvested and shared
Recent youth wellness project
Recent youth wellness project

Did you know that over half of our residents and program participants at Raphael House of Portland are children?

Our Youth Program meets the unique needs of children who have experienced domestic violence. Case managers provide individualized support to every child, helping them process their experiences and develop skills that will help them navigate the world in healthy ways. Youth Program staff work with parents across all programs to identify family strengths and needs, and to enhance parenting skills, build support systems, encourage resiliency, and increase family attachment.

Our Youth Program meets the unique needs of children who have experienced domestic violence. Case managers provide individualized support to every child, helping them process their experiences and develop skills that will help them navigate the world in healthy ways. Youth Program staff work with parents across all programs to identify family strengths and needs, and to enhance parenting skills, build support systems, encourage resiliency, and increase family attachment.

Raphael House has created an agency-wide culture that looks at the family as a whole, recognizes that the majority of participants served in our space are young children, provides social and emotional learning opportunities, and supports each staff member to be comfortable and proficient in working with kids, creating an environment where children and families can be successful and thrive.

Our trauma-informed and family-centered approach positions us as more than a shelter from crisis. These comments from recent interviews with parents express lasting change in family dynamics and communication:  

“I can say, I’m less frustrated, I’m happier. I know what my responsibilities are in parenting now. Before I came to shelter I didn’t really know that the way I was parenting wasn’t helpful or productive.”

“They don’t understand fully, but practice is important. They are little humans becoming big humans. We’re all learning how to deal with hard emotions instead of bottling things up. We’re all learning together, learning to be open-minded, that others’ feelings are important, and to not be a bully.”

Thank you for your generous support of Raphael House! Your assistance gives children and adults escaping domestic violence a safe place to heal and transform. 

Recent youth art project
Recent youth art project
Pie making youth activity
Pie making youth activity
A "comfort box" made during an art group
A "comfort box" made during an art group

Spring is a beautiful time of year at Raphael House! Our garden’s flowers and fruit trees are in bloom, which inspires us to reflect on the growth of the people we serve. As you might imagine, we witness a lot of hardship, but we also get to see a lot of positive transformation and shared support among our residents.

When Camila arrived here from out of state, she was nearly nine months pregnant with her first child and had no family or friends to support her. Like many survivors, past experiences made her guarded around our staff and other residents, and Camila was reluctant to connect.

Another resident, Phoebe, had been in our shelter with her children for a couple of months, and had recently lost a pregnancy. Though finances were extremely tight, she had been saving for her baby’s arrival. Phoebe was moved by Camila’s pending birth and purchased baby gifts such as bottles, diapers, and infant blankets for her.

Camila lit up after this act of kindness and something in her changed. She opened up to our staff and other residents and eagerly accessed the resources that Raphael House offered her growing family. Phoebe was transformed by her own generosity as well, and said it helped her move through her loss.

Today, Camila has a healthy baby and they live in their very own apartment, safe from her abuser, and are active participants in our Housing Program. Phoebe and her family have also found safety, and continue to return to Raphael House for ongoing programming like support groups and family activities.

Your support of Raphael House gives children and adults escaping domestic violence a safe place to heal and transform. Thank you for your generosity.

Links:

Graph by Street Roots
Graph by Street Roots

Every day we meet families who need but can’t easily access affordable housing for themselves and their children because of Portland’s difficult rental market. They face the impossible decision of choosing between homelessness and returning to an abusive partner. Raphael House is committed to breaking the cycle of violence by offering safe shelter and access to housing.

Our Home in Hand/Hogar en Mano Housing Program provides rental assistance and support to 20 families each year. Raphael House also has a Housing Advocate on staff to help shelter residents build housing portfolios and secure housing.

We know that when survivors have safety and stability, they can begin to rebuild their lives. Survivors face various obstacles in finding permanent housing, and our staff works work hard to help families overcome these. Barriers may include evictions, poor credit, and destruction of property (which are often the direct result of domestic violence and are outside survivors’ control).

Our participants work hard towards obtaining safe housing, too. We frequently celebrate graduates from RentWell, a 15-hour tenant education course offered in English and Spanish that sets participants up to be successful renters.

We hope you will take a moment to read this article by Street Roots which discusses how the affordable housing crisis in Portland is making a bad situation worse for survivors of domestic violence.

Ensuring that our residents move into a safe and affordable home of their own is a difficult task as Portland rents continue to increase. In the article, our Shelter Coordinator Christina McGovney describes why our shelter's maximum length of stay has recently expanded to 120 days and beyond: 

"... up until about two years ago, it was just a matter of getting a housing program to help support families, and there was no real concern about availability and affordability for apartments.

Now, even with a housing program, we are seeing families “time out” of these programs because they cannot find housing in the time frame they are given." 

We're grateful for the opportunity to serve those families, and for the community that supports our work. Your generous donations allow us to shelter 130 adults and children every year, while working towards long-term housing solutions.

Donation letter from three 12-year-old girls (p1)
Donation letter from three 12-year-old girls (p1)

Last holiday season, three 12-year-old girls sent us a letter describing how they sang carols at Pioneer Courthouse Square to raise money for Raphael House of Portland. "We sang our hearts out," they wrote to us. 

Their words reminded us of something a mom in one of our support groups said about her daughter, Kayla. "She sings after she leaves here. That's how I can tell she's happy." 

Kayla and her mother had to move many times due to domestic violence and Kayla was really struggling. It took time, but with lots of one-on-one support for Kayla, she blossomed here! 

We were able to find Kayla and her mother a nice apartment, so they’ll be celebrating the New Year in a safe home of their own. And they continue to come back and take part in our programs and work towards their long-term goals. 

As the holidays approach, I wanted to take the time to thank you for your generous support of Raphael House, which gives our residents the opportunity to find their voice in a safe place. I hope you’ll continue to make us a priority in 2016.

Donation letter (p2)
Donation letter (p2)
 

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Organization Information

Raphael House of Portland

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.raphaelhouse.com
Project Leader:
Jessica Walker
Development Associate
Portland, OR United States

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