Day Shelter in Northwest Portland Offers Safe Space for Women and Children

KATU2 Interview with Liz Starke

The Rose Haven day shelter opened its doors in Northwest Portland Tuesday. It’s the only low-barrier day shelter for women and children in the city.

“I think that that low-barrier model is the key that is going to solve so many issues as far as accessibility and making programs work,” said Rose Haven Development Director Liz Starke.

Starke said “low barrier” means they don’t require sobriety or proof of identification. She said the shelter is meant to be a safe space.

“Sobriety shouldn’t be a requirement. If someone has just been traumatized and they want to go by Jane Doe, let them. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable showing their ID. You have no idea what people have been through, so I really think that low-barrier model will open doors and is such an important part of making programs successful,” said Starke.

Starke said they expect to help nearly 4,000 women and children this year, the highest they’ve ever seen.

“Now, with the unemployment bonuses ending and the eviction moratoriums coming to an end, our phones are ringing off the hook. Unfortunately, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” said Starke.

She said Rose Haven is trying to be a part of the solution in Portland, a city in the midst of a homeless crisis.

“We’re really here for community and to restore dignity to people. So we can have a conversation about long-term change, once you have clean clothes on, and once you’ve had something to eat, but we have to start there,” said Starke.

One woman, who said she was on the verge of homelessness, said the shelter is awesome but would like to see the city put in more overnight shelters.

“I’ve had my bout with almost homelessness, and it’s scary, especially as a woman,” said Brenda Cohen. “It’s better than nothing, but, I mean, there should be more.”

Rose Haven is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. Starke said they hope to expand those hours in a couple months.

Watch the interview here: