Local leaders say a series of tragic domestic violence deaths proves the need for improved services, and help is on the way.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County are teaming up on a new domestic violence center next month, coming on the heels of several devastating murders.

A sheriff's sergeant shot himself and three women in Gresham this month, a gunman killed himself and his estranged wife at a Tualatin lab in November and a family in Bethany was gunned down by a distraught father the same week.

Those are a few of the many domestic violence-related deaths in the region since late last year.

It looks like domestic violence is increasing at an alarming rate, said Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

In a time of service cuts and with the poor economy heaping more stress on families, Saltzman says the domestic violence-related statistics are telling and disturbing.

Particularly domestic violence-related murder-suicides, said Saltzman, who oversees the city's police bureau. That is definitely off the charts in the last 3 or 4 months. We've had 14-15 people (die); women and kids.

Saltzman and Multnomah County Commissioners have worked for several months on a regional solution. The result is a new so-called, one-stop facility for victims located at 102nd and E. Burnside Street set to open next month.

For the first time under one roof local victims of domestic violence will be able to access services such counseling, housing, legal aid and restraining orders.

I just want to underscore that it very significant because right now to get a restraining order you have to go to the courthouse, said Saltzman.

He says new research shows abused women throughout the region are far less likely to seek a restraining order because they're required to travel to Downtown Portland to get one. The new facility in Gateway is designed to change that while consolidating services for added convenience.

We'll also have daycare for women who come with children in tow, Saltzman said.

The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services should begin restraining order services by the end of March and will have all of its services up and running by June.

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