SB 606

Endorse the Nonprofit Modernization Act – SB 606

With less than a month and a half left in the Oregon legislative session, time is running out to pass SB 606, the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act. We need your help to get a hearing in the Joint Ways & Means Committee for SB 606 to continue through the legislative process.

Without a hearing, the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act will die and non-profits and the communities they support will suffer! That’s why we need you to help us pass the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act this legislative session.

What is the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act:

  • Easy and simple changes to government contracting practices that can be implemented right away and have an immediate impact.
  • A Nonprofit Task Force to take a close look at streamlining and simplifying contracting, improving payment delivery, reducing burdensome reporting requirements, and raising nonprofit wages to improve employee retention in the long-term.
  • A Workforce Retention Fund to help nonprofits retain employees in the short-term.

How you can help:
Please take a few minutes today to make four phone calls by May 25. Please call the following key decision-makers and use this phone script to ask them to schedule a hearing for SB 606 in the Joint Ways & Means Committee. You can also show your support by signing here!

  • Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, Co-Chair, Joint Ways & Means Committee
    (503) 986-1717
  • Sen. Robert Wagner, Senate President
    (503) 986-1600
  • Representative Tawna Sanchez, Co-Chair, Joint Ways & Means Committee
    (503) 986-1443
  • Representative Dan Rayfield, Speaker of the House
    (503) 986-1416

Thank you for joining Rose Haven in supporting Senate Bill 606, the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act, your actions by May 25 will make a difference!

Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act


blankGovernor Tina Kotek at the Haven

Governor Tina Kotek and First Lady Aimee Wilson, MSW came to Rose Haven as the very first stop on their One Oregon Listening Tour. We invited our community partners from William Temple House, Raphael House, Blanchet House and Maybelle Center for Community for a frank conversation about the gaps we are filling in our social service infrastructure. With the exception of Raphael House, our agencies provide vital daytime services and do not receive government funding. As privately funded agencies, we were able to be nimble and responsive throughout the pandemic, not beholden to restrictions that come with public funds. We carried a heavy load, and continue to do so. As more people are displaced and shelters are at capacity, our programs are a critical safety net for unsheltered people in our communities. We are thankful for the opportunity to share our valuable insights.


Here is what we brought to the table for our sit down with our Governor:

1. We need a cohesive plan for what to do with sick, injured, or traumatized people. Our agencies are congregate settings, and we simply do not have the resources to serve those needing serious medical care. William Temple House calculated they spent 400+ staff hours working with just one person experiencing persistent mental health issues. We have also spent countless hours with this same individual at Rose Haven, and so has Blanchet House. In spite of our collective and resourceful efforts, today this person remains living on the streets; escalated, disruptive, and in need of full-time medical care that is unavailable to her.  If the State invested in these folks that need the most help, it would free up our agencies’ resources to uplift the thousands of other people we are serving.

2. Coordination between government and non-government funded agencies is essential; especially for people in acute crisis. We need timely access to first responders, streamlined emergency infrastructure, and a better referral system. We have become frontline workers with no access to State resources. Our agencies doing daytime work are most connected with people in greatest need of resources. State funded sites like the new BHRC should coordinate care with us to determine how they prioritize shelter beds for people in crisis.

3. We need access to low-barrier funding asap! The current government funding options have many bureaucratic barriers and strings attached. Trust based philanthropy has been a movement in the private foundation sector that we encourage the State to adopt. SB 606 is a related piece of legislation that Rose Haven is advocating for. It is focused on streamlining and simplifying contracting, improving payment delivery, reducing burdensome reporting requirements, and raising nonprofit wages to improve employee retention in the long-term. This would position our agencies to consider seeking much needed public funding.

4. Gender, age and abilities need to be part of the conversation, otherwise we are overlooking those most in need. We are seeing an aging population of folks living with disabilities, more people marginalized by their gender, and more families fleeing domestic violence. Programs specific to their unique needs are essential.

We asked the Governor to voice the need for a cultural understanding; rather than “the homeless” as a problem to be dealt with, a recognition that these folks are Oregonians who deserve to have their needs met. We are so grateful to have been heard, and as always, moved by the power of community.

Thank you Governor Kotek for starting your tour at Rose Haven!

AR featured

It’s impossible to capture the entirety of our guests’ experiences and how Rose Haven services have impacted them, but to give you some insight into the work, here’s our 2022 Annual Report!


Journalist Oscar Ponteri writes about community members experiences with homelessness and unaffordable housing. The article features images of Rose Haven guests. Read the article below or click on the link!


Stories and Solutions From Portlanders Experiencing Housing Insecurity

Written by Oscar Ponteri

Sophie Ross, pictured at Downtown Portland day shelter Rose Haven. As a transgender woman, Ross has worked hard to maintain gender affirming care and dignity while facing housing insecurity. Photo by Oscar Ponteri
David (left) and Josephine (right) together on NW 3rd and Davis. Ever since Josephine was evicted from an assisted living facility, the two have confronted the challenges of homelessness together. Photo by Oscar Ponteri
Kelli McBride at Rose Haven. McBride is currently housed, but found community on the streets. Photo by Oscar Ponteri

Sophie Ross left in her van. “I heard the roommate with his group of neighbors talking about me when I got out of the shower. And the window was open and I could hear them calling me a freak. I was like ‘I just can’t, I just can’t listen to them do that;’ it was intolerable and I decided to go,” she says. Ross, a trans woman, has been looking for stable housing ever since the incident in 2021.

After raising her son, Josephine was evicted from the apartment she had lived in for 20 years. “I didn’t plan on being homeless; I just got caught up in the rise of rent. One day it changed to $1400; I couldn’t afford it, and in 2010, I was homeless and on the streets,” she says. After contracting pneumonia while homeless, Josephine spent months in a hospital and then an assisted living facility before she was displaced again. “They sent me across the street. They sent me to the tent,” she says. That’s where she found David.

Kelli McBride was ‘outside’ for what she would consider six years. “The streets call you because it’s what you know. It’s where, 24 hours a day, there’s somebody, and that is your world,” she says. McBride now lives in stable housing, but has found leaving the camaraderie she found on the streets an incredible challenge. “Housed people don’t live in a community like we did,” she says.


The number of homeless individuals exploded in Oregon during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. After minor fluctuations in the mid-2010s, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County increased 30% from 2019 to 2022 to a total of 5228 people, according to a study by the Joint Office of Homeless Services. “We’re in dire need; the city I grew up in is very different than the city I live in today,” says Stephanie Rogers, a wellness program coordinator at Rose Haven, a Portland day shelter.

Rogers is not alone in her view towards the housing crisis. In a poll conducted in February 2023, 94% of Portlanders called homelessness a “very big problem,” calling on the state, county, and city governments to take quick action. Since then, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has unveiled a controversial plan to create six large city-approved camping sites and allow Portland leaders to prohibit unsanctioned camping on city streets. The plan has been under scrutiny, as Multnomah County and state leaders say they will not allocate money for the mass camps. “That [plan] just seems like we’re shuffling people around,” says Rogers. “If we don’t help them be part of change, starting within themselves, it’s just going to be a continuation.”

As housed residents, local leaders, policy experts, and others air out grievances and debate solutions, one group of key stakeholders have consistently been locked out of the conversation: homeless individuals. Personal stories from those who have experienced Portland’s crisis firsthand reveal a much more horrific and complex issue than popular coverage would suggest.

Sophie Ross experienced homelessness before beginning her gender-affirming care, but not in the same way. “For trans women, it’s quite remarkable, to see different reactions from people and learn more about social dynamics at play that I never knew about before,” she says, adding, “It’s more scary and complex.” According to reports by the University of California Los Angeles’ Williams Institute, 8.3% of transgender adults across all sexual orientations had recent experiences with homelessness, compared to just 1.4% of cisgender straight adults; they are also four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime regardless of housing status.

In addition to safety concerns, navigating identity and various supports has been difficult without housing. “I’ve had to learn to improvise things like where I’m going to maintain gender affirming personal care,” she says. “It’s hard to explore human relationships, especially intimacy … because those feelings do happen, even when you’re homeless.” Portland does offer some culturally appropriate care for queer citizens facing housing insecurity. Downtown day shelter Rose Haven holds weekly LGBTQ+ support meetings and nurse visits while providing showers, clothing, hygiene products, and emotional support. “You can give people homes, you can give people cars, you can give people things, but if they don’t have the mental health capacity to work with the tools they have it’s going to be a continual problem,” says Rose Haven coordinator Stephanie Rogers.

While the challenges have been abundant and constant for Ross, embracing her identity has also helped her persevere. “On a more personal note, I’m a childhood sex abuse survivor, and I’ve lived with suicidal ideation, but when I came out that ideation stopped,” says Ross. “The urgency to have permanent housing is so much greater, because I have a greater sense of value for my life now.”

Ross and her partner originally found community at the Q Center on N Mississippi Avenue, the largest LGBTQ+ community center in the Pacific Northwest, according to its website. As part of working and volunteering for the organization, they allowed Ross to sleep in her van in the parking lot. After a breakup with her partner, Ross stayed in various shelters and temporary housing, and transitional motels.

Currently, Ross believes “rapid housing placement” is the most important thing for the government to focus on. “Put people in a room. Give them somewhere to sleep and take a bath and wash up and regain their sense of dignity on their own,” she recommends. Governor Tina Kotek recently established a statewide goal of building 36,000 new homes per year, a 60% increase from prior years. Meanwhile, the state legislature recently passed a $200 million homelessness package targeted to fund transitional and permanent housing. “Given the mighty accumulation of resources that our country wields, it really is like ‘come on,’ we know, we know we can solve this problem by now,” says Ross. “I think there’s a tremendous amount of potential and it sounds like it appears as if there’s the right people in the right places to utilize our potential, so I would like to see Oregon leading the way, building the model for how this goes across the country and possibly around the world,” she added.

“I’m waiting on my ring now,” Josephine says, looking up at David. “I’d rather be by him, with him, married to him than alone; he’s all I have.” The two have been together ever since that night Josephine was sent to the tent, but they haven’t been able to find much stability when it comes to housing. “Shelters, assisted living, hospitals, I’ve done it all…  I’m a long ways away from where I used to be,” says Josephine. She is one of many Oregonians who fell victim to skyrocketing rent prices. According to a Willamette Week story from December 2022, the number of Portland evictions have skyrocketed to over 700 per month, significantly higher than before the pandemic. In 2012, KGW reported that the average Portland rent was $848 per month; now it’s more than $1800 per month, according to data from Zillow. High eviction numbers will likely continue as 2023 rent hikes were capped at 14.6%, which is the highest it’s been since Oregon’s rent control law took effect five years ago. “Anybody could become homeless at this rate … if you don’t be careful your kids will be on the ground with you,” says Josephine.

On the street, the couple describes a perpetual state of suffering; “This homelessness is one of the worst things I’ve witnessed in my life … it’s like living on the edge everyday,” says Josephine. In the first six months of 2022, 207 Oregonians experiencing homelessness died, with 35% of those deaths occurring in Multnomah County. 32 people died from unintended injuries, eight died by suicide, and seven died by homicide. The overwhelming majority of deaths were labeled as “natural causes.” “It hurts my heart, it’s like I’m dying trying to get out,” says Josephine.

She suggests education as a key to avoiding life on the street. “Education is the tool, never get enough of education. Stay plugged in,” she says. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, “Youth with less than a high school diploma or GED have a 346% higher risk of experiencing homelessness than youth with at least a high school degree,” and “the unemployment rate for someone with less than a high school diploma is almost three times that of someone with a bachelor’s degree.” Josephine’s son received a master’s degree and now has a daughter of his own.

Josephine and David have been on waitlists for housing, but have not received much sign of support. As time goes on, hope dwindles; “How do you come out of homelessness? There’s no way out, that’s what I still believe,” Josephine remarks. For now, she dreams of David proposing and a day when she can be “making ends meet, getting bills paid, going to parties and movies, and sending the kids money … that’s living life,” she says.

Kelli McBride had been placed in housing several times, but returned to the street. “That loss of community makes you want to come back and that is the cycle of homelessness,” she says. Finally, after a harsh winter, she made the hard choice to settle down, simply for the sake of survival. “I got to a place [where] I didn’t know if I was going to make it through summer,” she says. She entered the shelter system and was transferred all over town, before entering a transitional motel. “It was a great transitional step to practice having my own space,” McBride remarked. She also completed a course through Rent Well that taught her rights and responsibilities as a renter. Rent Well, a transition program, is a 15-hour tenant education program based in Oregon and Washington that prepares people to be “responsible, successful, and stable tenant[s],” according to its website.

However, even with a good deal of preparation to reenter a permanent living situation, the transition was difficult. “They don’t prepare somebody for it … it creates even more isolation because once you have housing you can’t talk to your friends,” McBride says. She wished those helping her had told her where the library or community was so that she could start building connections before she even arrived. A study published in 2021 by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that nearly 50% of homeless people already feel loneliness on the street; however, McBride described feeling more intense isolation when entering housing, something that is often not acknowledged.

“They don’t talk about it … If the homeless were honest and you asked them ‘what keeps you from getting housing,’ the words will come out: ‘I don’t want to be alone,’” says McBride. While there are lots of plans to build more housing, there is little concern about transitioning homeless individuals into new dwellings. Under a draft of Mayor Wheeler’s plan to convince Portland’s homeless population to reside in mass camps or alternative housing, the city could give out criminal citations for public camping resulting in a fine of $100 or 30 days in jail. McBride rebukes the idea, saying, “Putting them in housing before they’re ready is clearly a waste of money.”

Her plan would entail “community reintegration centers” where people who are recently housed and homeless can come together. In her vision, “there’s laundry, a pool table, and you can sit and talk with people that are going through it.” It would be a safe space to talk where people could discuss their common struggles: “The biggest step—and it won’t cost a dime—is you start talking about how hard [the transition] is,” she says.

Unfortunately, McBride rarely feels like people listen to her ideas. “They speak about ‘lived experience’ meaning ‘we’re talking to the people,’ but they don’t. They’re deciding on what’s best for them and how to spend the money, not what’s best for us,” she says.

Despite decisive plans and big dreams, the solution to Oregon’s housing crisis may actually rely on communal, ground-up work. “We are all in positions of power, because I think power comes from within, and power is centered in our heart and soul,” says Rogers. “And I think when we start looking at the world from that perspective, we start caring about ourselves, and then we care about each other,” she adds. As someone whose brother passed away on the streets due to addiction, Rogers, who spends many of her days around those in need, has a uniquely hopeful outlook: “There’s so much about what is wrong, and that’s one of the beautiful things about being part of something as wonderful as Rose Haven; every day people are showing up to help each other … I think the more we focus on what is happening and how people are showing up, I think we would be surprised at the good that’s happening every day.”

Rose Haven Partners with Sheltersuit

An international fashion designer is helping homeless people on the streets of Portland. Bas Timmer is from the Netherlands. He created The Sheltersuit Foundation after a friend’s father, who was homeless, died from hypothermia. “So, it is a very comfortable mattress with an opening, so you can add extra layering,” Timmer said. “It has a big hood that’s waterproof and, of course, a waterproof layer on top, with ventilation at bottom and if you need to move (you) zip open, roll up easily, and are ready to move.blank

On Wednesday November 9th Rose Haven distributed Sheltersuits to our houseless neighbors. In a partnership with Greater Good Northwest and TPI, we are able to bring these critical products to the Western United States, all the way from where they were produced in South Africa.

Sheltersuit is an organization based in the Netherlands that sustainably creates wearable shelters with recycled materials. These “Sheltersuits” can be unzipped to wear as a heavy duty jacket, re-assembled into a large sleeping bag, and rolled up to wear as a backpack. The material itself is surprisingly lightweight; something that often cannot be said for tents or sleeping bags. With all of the barriers that our houseless neighbors face, creating ease with lightweight materials and portability can provide some relief to those without shelter.

“For the folks who are living outside in Oregon this is so critical,” said Liz Starke, development director at Rose Haven. “If you’re sleeping outside and your sleeping bag gets wet and you don’t have a tent, it basically becomes disposable, it becomes really heavy, soaking wet.

Read more here:

Showcase at Portland Fashion Week

On Thursday, August 18th, Rose Haven  participated in the sustainable apparel runway at Portland Fashion Week. We showcased 10 up-cycled garments made of entirely donated materials and created by guests and volunteers in our sewing class.

We also took this opportunity to give a sneak peak into a very exciting new partnership: we teamed up with Sheltersuit to present donated sheltersuits and shelterbags on the runway.




The HereTogether 2023 Roadmap is a set of key recommendations from local homeless services experts, business and community leaders on how we can speed up relief for our unhoused neighbors. These are strategies that local leaders and our communities can act on now to bring more of our neighbors indoors, quickly.

You can read more about the coalition’s roadmap on KATU2 News or through HereTogether’s website. Stay up to date on the implementation of the 2023 Roadmap’s recommendations.

Follow along for key recommendations for the 2023 roadmap below!






Join Rose Haven in supporting Senate Bill 606, the Oregon Nonprofit Modernization Act!

The problem:

Government funding is currently non-transparent and inaccessible. For example, most county contracts are reimbursement programs, which means that the nonprofit must front the money to do the work, and then reach out to the county for reimbursement…which sometimes takes months to reconcile. This can mean non-profits are not able to keep up with their bills while they wait for the county to pay them back. These funds can also be very restrictive, and have narrow scopes of work that discourage many agencies from applying at all.

We also need to invest in this work, and non underpay people that are willing to be on the front lines if we want to see solutions to our homeless crisis. Nonprofit staff leave their demanding jobs at higher rates than private and for-profit business counterparts. This is due, in part, to low pay, heavy workload, understaffing, secondary trauma, and the current structure and requirements of state contracts. SB 606 would address some of these challenges and support nonprofit staff.

We need to make the funding that is intended to be invested in the community accessible to the nonprofits that are already doing the work. We need to see more trust based philanthropy, and listen to those who are doing the work for what they say they need.

About the bill:

SB 606 would establish a nonprofit workforce retention fund in the state treasury. In addition, the state treasury would be required to provide grants to qualifying nonprofits and organizations. 

A nonprofit task force would also be implemented. The task force would closely examine streamlining and simplifying contracting, improving payment delivery, reducing burdensome reporting requirements, and raising nonprofit wages to improve employee retention in the long term. This bill creates easy and simple changes to government contracting practices that can be implemented immediately.

By passing this bill, legislators can help Oregon’s nonprofits provide essential services and promote the well-being of all our community members. These grants would support nonprofits such as Rose Haven, helping retain employees by increasing compensation, which would reduce burnout and understaffing challenges. 

How you can help:

trauma-informed design

Our trauma-informed facility is an award-winning design!

The Gensler Design Firm has won the 2022 Design Excellence Awards from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) for their interior design work here at Rose Haven.

Our interior design was selected for the People’s Choice Award, the Impact Award (Social), and as an Honorable Mention in the Public & Civic design category. Everything from the lighting and furniture to the flow and color palette were carefully selected with trauma-informed design in mind. 

Gensler Portland generously provided their services pro-bono to design our shelter with a trauma informed lens, but it was our guests’ input that played a vital role in shaping the space into a welcoming, safe, and uplifting environment for all. 

These design awards recognize the collaborative effort of our guests, volunteers, staff, and the Gensler team. We could not have opened the space without them and the generous contributions from the Portland community. 



Executive Directors of Four Grassroots Organizations Came Together to Collectively Ask for Help from our Community

Executive directors of four major nonprofit organizations in Portland collaborated to publish an op-ed in The Oregonian regarding our citywide homeless crisis. This piece was put together by Scott Kerman at Blanchet House, Katie O’Brien at Rose Haven, Carrie Hoops at William Temple House, and Michelle Meyer at Maybelle Center for Community.

Read the full story below and on The Oregonian’s website here. You can help us help Portland by sharing this op-ed far and wide on Facebook and Twitter!


Blanchet House served those in need throughout the pandemic. The organization has since returned to in-person meals. The executive director of the organization, along with the executive directors of three other groups, write that they are struggling to continue providing services to the needy amid daily violence in our neighborhoods and the community’s addiction and mental health crises.

Scott Kerman, Katie O’Brien, Carrie Hoops and Michelle Meyer

Kerman is executive director of Blanchet House. O’Brien is executive director of Rose Haven. Hoops is executive director of William Temple House. Meyer is executive director of Maybelle Center for Community.

This is hard to write because it might sound like we’re giving up. We’re not – but we need help.

As the executive directors of Blanchet House, Rose Haven, William Temple House and Maybelle Center for Community, we are committed to serving vulnerable people living on the margins – the disconnected, discounted and often forgotten. With collectively 180-plus years of service in Portland, our nonprofit organizations are the ones that people in need turn to for help, whether it’s food, clothing, mental health counseling, showers, health care, shelter, housing or simply to find community with others.

We are not government agencies, but we provide public benefits and services. We are privately funded by generous individuals, businesses, foundations and grants ­– not government contracts ­– and have successfully operated with lean budgets and staff. But in the past two years, our costs have skyrocketed as the toll of the community’s mental health and addiction crisis has fallen on us to manage, along with the growing need to protect the safety of our clients, staff and volunteers. We need our local government to confront today’s unprecedented circumstances, help shoulder the load in meeting these needs and summon the creativity and urgency to change the on-the-ground reality right now.

In the Old Town and Northwest Portland neighborhoods where we work, we serve amidst elevated levels of daily violence – violence that victimizes our clients and the people trying to help them. A man was brutally stabbed outside one of our organizations this summer. A man in mental health crisis smashed a bystander’s head with a rock, severely injuring him. A woman in a wheelchair was left at the doorstep of one of our organizations. We spent all day trying to find an agency willing to help her. None were.

We are not giving up, but we must be realistic about our ability to continue in this environment, which makes it harder to recruit volunteers and burns out staff members, without whom there are no services.

Make no mistake. Our volunteers and staff members are made of strong stuff. After all, we’ve never exactly served in a comfortable, easy environment. Compassionate, mission-driven and dedicated, they come downtown and stick with us through hardship and tragedy. But it feels like we’re approaching a breaking point. If the services we provide disappeared, the impact on our city would be immediate and glaring. Our organizations could disappear, but the people who need us will not.

What can the city and county do to help? First, they can free up funding to help us provide these public benefits during this incredibly precarious time. Clear bureaucratic hurdles and help us pay these irreplaceable workers. If the city can spend millions on private security for city-owned properties, it can help defray the costs of employing and protecting nonprofit workers providing meals and support to those in need.

It also is time to abandon pre-pandemic ways of assessing need and how we should respond. For example, right now because they are not deemed “a danger to themselves or others,” too many truly vulnerable, defenseless people are simply left to play out the rest of their lives in madness or addiction, victimized and brutalized until they die or are jailed. This is unacceptable and requires legislative attention to our civil commitment laws.

We need a cohesive plan for what to do with sick, injured, or traumatized people. Right now, too many people are dropped at our doors because our hospitals and emergency services don’t know what else to do with them. We aren’t designed to care for everyone.

We also need our civic agencies to reassess what serving with urgency and to scale means in this crisis. This will take returning city and county employees to their offices because how can you know what we’re dealing with if you’re not living it every day like we are?

And when we have new ideas and programs to meet the moment, let’s streamline the process of getting them started. The city and county should recognize that independent agencies can do remarkable things for our community faster and often more efficiently. Provide funding, and we will innovate, collaborate and lead.

In fact, we’ve already proven what we can do together. Recently, Multnomah County agreed to fund peer support specialists who visit our organizations daily. These mentors, who have lived experience with addiction and homelessness, help deescalate situations and provide resources to our clients.

The new and innovative Old Town InReach Program, ­ which we designed and advocated for – is helping. But it is not enough. It is not a substitute for public safety, so we are left to provide for our own security – some of us with 24/7 safety staff wearing bulletproof vests.

Yes, it will take time to repair a broken mental health system, build affordable housing, and expand programs like Portland Street Response. But time is not on our side. We need the city and county to respond like their hair is on fire. Because it is. What might happen months or years from now won’t help today.

We’re ready to collaborate and do our part, something we and our colleague nonprofit agencies have proven during this crisis. We are not giving up and we don’t want to give up.

But we need to see substantive, meaningful and urgent responses that show us the city and county haven’t given up themselves.


Rose Haven’s new space was highlighted in an article from The Architect’s Newspaper, written by Matt Hickman. Matt goes into detail about our vision for our new Home for the Haven, and how Gensler helped us bring our dream to fruition. You can read through the article below and see the lovely way in which the photographer for Gensler, Stephen A. Miller, captured the new building.

Find the full article here on AN’s website!

Gensler’s revamp of a Portland day shelter for women and children brings trauma-informed design to the forefront

Gensler Portland—one of three offices that comprise the global design firm’s Cascadia regional division along with Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.—has unveiled its interior refresh of Rose Haven, a low-barrier day shelter and community center dedicated to supporting women, children, and gender-diverse individuals experiencing homelessness, abuse, and other turbulent life events. Located in Northwest Portland, the facility provides a critical—and singular—service for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

As noted by Gensler, Oregon has the second-highest rate of homelessness in the country, with 35 out of every 10,000 residents in the state lacking safe, permanent shelter, making organizations like Rose Haven all the more critical.

With the aim to “create a space that embodies the emotional connection users have to Rose Haven,” Gensler Portland took on the project pro-bono, which in addition to the interior design services for the nonprofit’s new 10,500-square-foot home on NW Glisan Street—a space three times larger than the 25-year-old organization’s previous facility in the basement of a nearby church—also entailed a brand identity revamp, including a new logo design, typography, and trauma-informed color palette. The new logo celebrates the Rose—a legacy symbol of the organization—by representing Rose Haven’s diverse community coming together with each petal,” Gensler explained in a project overview.

Boasting a fresh new logo, Rose Haven is located not too far from its old longtime location in a church basement. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)
The new facility includes a boutique where guests can peruse donated fashions. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)

Featuring exposed wood beams, ample natural light, and furnishings that promote a warm, safe, and open atmosphere, the space itself includes an intake and reception area, activity rooms, community dining room, guest services area, prep-kitchen and pantry, wellness area with showers, laundry and medic room, and a “boutique-inspired area” where guests can select clothing donated to Rose Haven. Joining the guest-facing spaces are administrative offices and workspaces for the nonprofit’s team of directors, advocates, and, last but not least, volunteers.

Because a Rose City nonprofit just wouldn’t be complete without a prominent floral motif, the design team created an 82-foot botanic mural that flanks the shelter’s main service areas and incorporates 35 colors that, per Gensler, “evoke a sense of calm and wellbeing.” Using a paint-by-numbers approach, Rose Haven’s guests, volunteers, and donors were invited to fill in the large blossoming artwork.

Rose Haven is the only day shelter and community center for women and children in Portland. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)
Comfortable, unfussy furnishings create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)

While input from the community that a particular project sets out to serve is an invaluable part of any design process, the engagement phase at Rose Haven was particularly salient with the needs of the facility’s core users—its guests, volunteers, and staff—taking front and center.

“This project was our first experience in creating a space that allowed for our guests and staff to provide input into color, flow, lighting and all the aspects important to supporting their physical and emotional safety,” said Katie O’Brien, executive director of Rose Haven, in a statement. “We are witnessing firsthand how all these factors have made for a calmer, yet uplifting, environment that promotes dignity. Trauma informed design works.”

Guests, volunteers, and others were invited to contribute by painting the space’s large mural. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)
Among the day shelter’s many features is a wellness area with showers. (Photographer: Stephen A. Miller/Courtesy Gensler Portland)

Kicking off the engagement process, the design team facilitated visioning sessions for the Rose Haven team to in order to “provide the framework they could leverage to conduct a visioning session with the women and children they serve,” Gensler Portland detailed. “This focused on decision-making, providing an inclusive experience to ensure all voices were heard, engaging with diverse viewpoints, and community outreach.”

“The opportunity to work closely with Rose Haven’s community and learn about trauma-informed design in real time was an invaluable experience for our team,” added Natasha Field-Rahman, design manager at Gensler Portland.

The new Rose Haven space first opened to guests in early March and was made possible by a $3 million fundraising campaign.

We are so grateful to be able to boast a truly trauma informed design, which we could not have cultivated without Gensler. Thank you, Architect’s Newspaper & Matt Hickman, for the beautiful story.