Fundraising Helps Women's Shelter Meet Goal after Rent Hike

Serenity House, a women's shelter in Oakland that houses and heals survivors of addiction, violence, homelessness and incarceration, raised more than $26,000 this week to help cover increased rent for its building on San Pablo Avenue.

The women in the shelter were in danger of eviction and becoming homeless again following the 75 percent hike in rent, from $2,000 to $3,500.

As of Saturday afternoon, the campaign was able to raise enough money to pay rent for the past five months, totaling $17,500, and cover rent for August.

"We're so thrilled and overwhelmed with gratitude for the community's support," said Valerie Harder, a real estate professional and Serenity House board member.

The influx of donations after regional media coverage will allow the shelter to pay utilities and provide more food and supplies for the women at the residence.

In the 10 years the shelter has been open, 644 women have been provided needed services.

Thanks to these donations, the shelter will also have space to admit four new residents, Harder said. The organization works with referral sources, including the courts, to reach out to women in need.

Serenity House is one of only two programs in the East Bay that accepts women who have "dual diagnosis," concurrent mental illness and substance use disorder diagnosis, and the only such program in the area to provide housing for up to three years.

The shelter's future goals include helping more women by providing additional housing and resources, as well as programming to teach women entrepreneurial and job-skills and continue providing counseling, therapy, healing groups, healthcare linkages, benefit enrollments, substance abuse treatment and case-management in their day programs.

The nonprofit is seeking to expand its monthly donor base to avoid such funding gaps in the future. For more information, visit www.serenityhouseoakland.org.

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
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