More than half of the protective orders requested by victims of domestic violence in Multnomah County are filed from a yellow house on 102nd Avenue and Burnside Street, the home of Portland’s Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services.
Among the unique support there is a satellite courtroom with a direct video link to the county courthouse downtown that allows survivors of violence to remotely make their case to a judge.
“You’re less likely to encounter the person who’s abusing you,” said Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who helped the city launch the center in partnership with Multnomah County in 2009.
“I felt it was important to have that ease, to make it easier for people to survive.”
Now, with Saltzman retiring after five terms on the Council, he and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury have agreed to merge the Gateway Center with the county’s Department of Human Services.
While the city government will no longer be directly involved in the center’s administration, the City Council unanimously approved a six-year agreement to continue to fund four staff positions at the center, at $943,415 a year, adjusted for inflation.
The county will fund the center’s remaining operational costs, including contracts with nonprofits that connect women with services. Those nonprofits include Bradley Angle, Catholic Charities, IRCO, NAYA, the YWCA, and Legal Aid Services of Oregon.
Saltzman says the new arrangement was the best way to guarantee the center’s future, given that no one else on the City Council wanted to champion the cause.
“I just felt that there wasn’t a logical heir apparent here, so it’s made more sense to transfer the four people to become county employees,” he said. “The county commission are all passionate people when it comes to helping survivors of domestic violence.”
The center is open five days a week and people in crisis can walk in and get help making a safety plan and accessing services without needing to make an appointment first. It serves more than 4,000 adults and children each year.
At a hearing discussing the merger, advocates for survivors of domestic violence supported the move, noting that Multnomah County is already responsible for providing most safety-net services.
Staff from the Gateway Center thanked Saltzman, who also launched the Portland Children’s Levy, for his leadership on issues that affect women and children.
“You’ve been exclusively guided by what would be best for the people we are trying to serve,” said Martha Strawn Morris, the center’s director. “I’m so proud to have the opportunity to carry on your work.”