KOIN interview

Rose Haven has been operating in a basement of a church with about 3500 square feet.

But with the help of design company Gensler Portland, they’re repurposing what used to be a coffee shop and roasting facility, making use of 10,000 square feet. The renovated building will provide necessary services to Rose Haven’s guests and create a compassionate and safe environment where they can heal with respect and dignity.

Pro bono design work has been offered by Gensler Portland for the renovated building.

KOIN interview

Sun Joo Kim, the design manager for Gensler Portland, said the biggest driver behind the new design was the people who it will serve.

“It’s energizing and uplifting for myself and our team to be able to work on trauma-informed design in this real-time in this real space with the users who will use it,” Kim said. “Then, to get feedback and to see the impact that this space will have is invaluable,” Kim said.

Thank you, Elise Haas and the KOIN6 crew!

If you would like to contribute to the Home for the Haven campaign’s renovation.


OPB Think Out Loud- Organizations Urge Donors To Be Mindful About Reuse

Organizations that take in-kind donations are often in the awkward position of declining items that actually belong in the trash. Thrift stores and community centers want gently used items that they can feel good about passing along to new owners. And while some donors do their homework to find out what these organizations actually need, many are mainly focused on getting rid of stuff they’d rather not throw away. This means volunteers have to spend a lot of time sorting through donations and nonprofits have to spend money getting rid of large items they can’t use. We hear more about how to donate used goods responsibly from Community Warehouse program manager Joe GlodeMarie Ellsworth, in-kind donations coordinator for Rose Haven and Carrie Hoops, executive director of William Temple House.

Thank you OPB and Julie Sabatier!

Below is the podcast from OPB


Photo credits from Courtesy Goodwill / OPB and Good Housekeeping (google image)

2020 heatwave view

Extreme heat further complicates the lives of homeless women and LGBTQ+ people

The staff of a Portland, Oregon, day center for people experiencing homelessness has worked through a heat wave this week. –Barbara Rodriguez


Liz Starke was the final employee to leave Rose Haven last week when a woman who lives in a tent across the street rang the doorbell. The woman was “hysterical,” Starke recalled.

Starke said the woman told her, “‘I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the weekend. You’re not going to be here. What am I going to do?’”

Rose Haven provides daytime services to women, children and gender non-conforming people experiencing homelessness in Portland, Oregon, one of the most expensive cities in the country. In this case, the woman knew an ex-partner, who she said abused her, was getting released from prison soon — and she was worried about what services would be available. She was also worried about the pending heat wave.

Officials in Oregon said rising temperatures in the area — which reached a record 116 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday — has been linked to at least 79 deaths. That includes at least 52 in Multnomah County, where Portland is located. With many properties in the region lacking air conditioning, exposure to extreme heat increases the risks of injury, including death.

As extreme heat blanketed the Pacific Northwest, people who rely on places like Rose Haven have faced the brunt of the effects. Research shows women and LGBTQ+ people are among the most vulnerable to housing insecurity and homelessness. That is particularly acute in Oregon, which has one of the highest rates of people who experience unsheltered homelessness, meaning they live outside, including in tents or in cars instead of in shelters or other housing.

In Multnomah County, data from 2019 shows the number of people experiencing homelessness who are gender non-conforming grew more than any other group. And still, the research acknowledges a potential undercounting because of factors like stigmatization and discrimination.

Already, the pandemic and its effects on health, jobs and wages has exacerbated the likelihood that these marginalized communities are most likely to experience housing insecurity or homelessness. Gender-based violence, including domestic violence against women, also contributes to homelessness. Now, climate change has further complicated their lives.

“The heat wave is one disaster, but if you’re looking at it as part of a continuum of all these other climate-related or climate exacerbated disasters, it’s yet another example of how the most marginalized populations are hit over and over and over again,” said Sarah Saadian, vice president of public policy at the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Starke ended up giving the woman from across the street some bus tickets so she could travel to a temporary cooling center set up by local officials. But the woman worried about whether her dog would be allowed (many centers did allow pets during the heatwave, though not everyone knew that), and whether her tent and other belongings would be stolen if left unattended. Starke emptied a wheelbarrow from the center, packed some water and tarps, and pleaded with the woman to seek more protection from the heat. Starke said they sat and talked for about an hour, until the woman stopped hyperventilating.

“There’s nobody else for these people to have these conversations with,” Starke said. “She only has access to a phone when she charges here, so she didn’t even know that it was going to be 115 degrees on Saturday.”

These are the daily realities of the individuals and families who come to Rose Haven, which operates out of the basement of a Portland church on the northwest side of the city. Since staff provide the bulk of their services outside due to limited volunteers and COVID-19, the heat has added another layer of hardship.

People in line this week have been handed cold water, spray bottle fans, popsicles and wet towels to cool off. They’ve been given hats and baseball caps, sunglasses and sunscreen. But supplies are limited. Every week, Rose Haven shares a list of donation requests with the public: rolling luggage, carts, backpacks. Body wipes and lip balm. Ankle socks and new underwear.

Rose Haven is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. People line up outside the church before staff arrives and linger after it closes. Adults and children make their way through several designated lines, including one for supplies like diapers, wipes, pads and tampons — things they’re unable to buy with food stamps. This is also where they can also plug their phones if they have one, and where Rose Haven staff and volunteers provide tents and sleeping bags. Many of the overnight shelters do not have enough beds; housing advocates say in other instances, women and LGBTQ+ people especially do not feel safe or welcome in such congregate settings.

Starke said the staff, volunteers and people experiencing homelessness who come for the services — Rose Haven calls them their guests — are a community. Unlike some other facilities that offer assistance, no one is required to show identification or disclose information about their mental health or immigration status in order to access food, showers or counseling.

“We’re building each other up, and we’re living that shared experience as women or as people that are marginalized by their gender. Combined with access that we provide to not only basic needs services, but just things that make you feel human,” she said. “… I try to explain to folks what our needs are. It’s like, ‘Yeah. We need flat shoes. We need sweatpants. We need all of those essential things. We also need glitter. I cannot tell you what a little bit of glitter does around here.”

Rose Haven fills a gap in services — one that will become even more critical due to climate change and looming housing evictions.

Scientists say 2020 was Earth’s second hottest year on record, behind only 2016. The world’s seven warmest years have all occurred since 2014.

This has a ripple effect in the United States, where rising temperatures are being recorded in parts of the country where more than half of the homeless populations are unsheltered — including California, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, Arkansas and Arizona. States with the largest absolute increases in homelessness between 2019 and 2020 include Texas and Washington, other states recording extreme heat.

As climate change exacerbates the effects of weather events like flooding, hurricanes and wildfires, it increases the likelihood of more displaced people who are facing housing insecurity and homelessness.

And while the federal government has extended a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic and approved billions in rental assistance, advocates have raised questions about whether everyone who needs financial help will be able to access it and how quickly they will have that relief. Saadian said it all points to “gaping holes” in the federal housing safety net. She and other advocates worry about impending evictions.

“It’s that same failure that is allowing people to be unhoused during an extreme heat wave, and the same sort of holes that let people be at huge risk of losing their homes during the pandemic,” she said. “I think it just points to the fact that we’ve just never had this sort of infrastructure in place and if we did, people would be far better off to face any of these challenges.”

Jaboa Lake, a senior policy analyst with the Center for American Progress, works on housing issues and has close family that have experienced unsheltered homelessness in extreme heat. She said a general drop in volunteers at homeless shelters during the pandemic — a point Starke also described at Rose Haven — highlighted inequities in how local, state and federal officials fund critical public services that can house people immediately and address other related needs.

“Homelessness services shouldn’t be dependent on volunteerism in the first place,” she said. “It should be a robust investment that provides adequate resources.”

Saadian added that housing organizers are particularly dismayed at policies implemented on the local and state level that have effectively criminalized people who experience homelessness. Some policies ban tents, while others have prevented them from lingering or sleeping in public spaces.

“There’s a lot of cruelty I think in that,” she said. “That’s really at the heart of it. Whether or not communities understand that these are people who have dignity and humanity and need access to resources to help them get back on their feet.”

This leads to more encampments being dismantled (local officials have defended their actions as necessary to public safety), increasing the likelihood that homeless people move further into forms of hiding from plain sight. Starke worries that can make them more susceptible to the outside elements.

“I mean, when you don’t even have protection from the elements, when you don’t even have a tarp or a hoodie or a pair of shoes, what is that going to mean when it’s 115 degrees outside?”

Rose Haven will soon leave the basement. It is in the midst of a $3 million campaign to build a new center across the street that they plan to open in the new year. The new center will allow people to once again receive services indoors and under extended hours. Organizers are raising money in part through private donations.

Starke worries about what will happen until then. Climate change has ramifications not just with extreme heat. In a few months, there’s also the possibility of extreme cold.

The uncertainty of available beds and services frustrates Starke. Sometimes she and staff receive calls from people asking about open shelters in the area. Most often, the staff doesn’t have promising news to share.

“I think that’s the hardest part. You’re having these conversations where you’re supposed to be the rock. I’m supposed to be like, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ And I have to be like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’”

Rose Haven’s Back to School Drive brings backpacks, supplies to 400 kids

Rose Haven serves people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Portland.

Last year, the Oregon Department of Education tallied more than 21,000 homeless students between kindergarten and high school.

“This is an annual event for us that we’re just so excited to provide. This year, we have about 400 children signed up for brand new school supplies from about 100 different families,” said Liz Starke, Rose Haven’s Development Director. “So it’s a really exciting day for us because what we try to do is make sure that every single supply is brand new so we can promote dignity for these kids.”

All the students are pre-registered to pick up the supplies and can even handpick their own backpacks, Starke said.

Thank you KOIN6 and Danny Peterson!!

Photo credit to KOIN6

To reach the article: https://www.koin.com/news/education/rose-havens-back-to-school-drive-brings-backpacks-supplies-to-400-kids/

To watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbKIK_vy80Y


Rose Haven is seeking board members who can help speak to our mission of providing day shelter, resources, emotional support and community to women, children and marginalized genders experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Rose Haven’s board provides governance that has a dual focus of realizing the agency’s social mission while ensuring its viability. The Board of Directors are advocates and ambassadors fully engaged in providing guidance to the agency’s leadership, securing financial resources, strategic planning, human resources and partnerships necessary to advance its mission.

Rose Haven is looking for board members who have specific backgrounds, experiences, and abilities, those who are champions to the importance of exceptional leadership and believe each member contributes specific skills to fully realize Rose Haven’s potential. This includes:

  • Those with a legal background to help with policies, procedures, human resource support, etc.


  • Those with marketing and public relations backgrounds to be a voice in promoting our services to the community


  • Those who have experience and interest in promoting the ongoing financial health through fundraising, grants and events


  • Those with financial background, offering expertise in nonprofits budgeting as well as investment opportunities including endowments, planned giving, etc.


  • Those who represent major hospital or care settings, have understanding of the intersection of homelessness and health and are looking to address inequities within our systems


  • Those with city, county or government experience or policy work as it relates to our service and population served


  • Those with lived experience relevant to our work with people experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, poverty, and domestic and sexual violence

If this sounds like you, we encourage you to carefully review Rose Haven’s mission, values and purpose. Contact Kathy Kelly, board president, at kelly221@att.net for an application and to begin the process.  All board appointments will be reviewed by a committee of the board and applicants will be moved forward by a simple majority.

skin care products

If you wish to donate sunscreen to Rose Haven, we suggest you keep in mind the following aspects, as numerous popular products that contain benzene are still on the shelves.

New Rose Haven Building

Maggie Vespa of KGW Showcases New Rose Haven Building


Maggie Vespa of KGW stopped by to see the new Rose Haven building and interviewed our Executive Director Katie O’Brien and former Rose Haven guest Cody Jane Baker. The interview took place at Rose Haven’s new home, what was formerly known as World Cup Coffee (1740 NW Glisan St,97209) Fundraising and construction will take place this year, and we hope to move into our new home in 2022.

Since 2014, Rose Haven’s signature event, the Reigning Roses Walk, has brought together our community of dedicated donors, volunteers, and guests to raise funds and awareness for our organization each Mother’s Day. The 2021 event will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person experiences, fundraising for renovations to Rose Haven’s new facility, which will triple our existing footprint and allow us to resume services indoors and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Limited time slots available 10 am-2 pm for households to participate at the in-person, covid-safe event, which will include a tour of our newly leased space! Register at makeitreign.org.

Our goal is to raise $200,000 by Mothers Day. By registering at makeitreign.org participants will also be automatically entered into weekly giveaways and a grand prize (more information about the giveaways can be found on our Instagram page @rosehaven_pdx or rosehaven.org ). This campaign keeps our support services for women, children, and marginalized genders experiencing homelessness in the familiar neighborhood of NW Portland, yet provides us with sufficient space to meet current and anticipated demand for services.

Learn more and watch the interview here:


Annual Report 2020

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 2020 Annual Report!

Guest receiving services

If you find that the $600 stimulus check isn’t needed, maybe turn it over to someone who really does.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

A typical Rose Haven January is spent collecting our year-end data to summarize the work we accomplished over the previous year together. The numbers are never reflective of the impact we’ve truly made….this is especially so in 2020. While our service statistics are phenomenal, they are a small part of the story. They don’t tell us how many lives we’ve saved by providing essential supplies to the chronically homeless who have not been indoors anywhere in nearly a year. They don’t enumerate how many people we educated about the pandemic and the importance of wearing masks, washing hands, seeking medical attention, and knowing protocols during this new and scary epidemic. They don’t indicate how many phones we charged, people we gave voter ballots to, or stimulus checks distributed through our mail program. Nor do they don’t quantify the guests we have laughed with, those we have shed tears beside, or the souls we nourished over the course of our work in 2020. They are countless.

The last year was one of dizzying pivots. Adjusting our service model to accommodate new COVID-19 safety protocols, raging wildfires, social unrest, and ever-changing weather conditions was a daily practice. Everyone was so brave and creative and dogged in their pursuit of helping. Without question, our bold staff continued to show up at Rose Haven every day, setting aside personal fears and prioritizing service to others. Their work was supplemented by a small core group of volunteers who arrived during uncertain times and changing circumstances to help on-site with direct services. Many volunteers picked up take-home projects, while others collected needed items. Amazon packages arrived by the dozens each day! Our 575 volunteers found avenues to support our guests. And, thousands of donors, some long-time friends and others brand new, shared their financial resources and stimulus checks with us!

Genuine love and support were abundant in 2020, helping us navigate these rough waters alongside 2,500 Rose Haven guests. 

And during all this, we somehow managed to tackle some immense agency priorities. Bracing ourselves for the inevitable reality that more women and families will need our help over the coming years, our Board of Directors focused on the future of Rose Haven. We updated our Mission and Values to reflect our guiding principles and essential work more accurately. To better clarify our governance, we established new bylaws.

Strategic Priorities were defined to direct our agency efforts over the next three years:

• Build diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices into all aspects of our work

• Secure new service space that advances our ability to deliver our mission

• Build meaningful, inclusive, sustainable, and consistent programs

• Ensure our human resources model promotes a positive and sustainable employee, volunteer, and board experience

• Raise sufficient funds to execute our strategic priorities


Big things are on the horizon, and we are preparing. Our staff is getting their 2nd round of vaccinations next week, and optimism is our mantra for 2021. Thank you for being with us on this unique and unpredictable journey. Our work is far from done, but together we are making a marked difference in women and children’s lives in our community.


Katie O’Brien
Executive Director