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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.

Rose Haven finds a new home -NW Portland day shelter for women, gender-diverse people moving and growing

by John McDonald at Street Roots | 2 Feb 2022
On a damp and dark wintry night, the garbage bins alongside the First Immanuel Lutheran Church had once again been rooted through. Debris was scattered all over the sidewalk.

It’s a routine occurrence in this Northwest Portland neighborhood. Help arrives around dawn as volunteers begin picking up the trash and preparing the site for day shelter operations.

Liz Starke has done this duty before and recalls a heartbreaking conversation she had with a shelter guest as she cleared the sidewalk of trash.

“You don’t have to do this,” the woman said. “I’ll do it. I live here.”

As a new day begins at the church property, its main tenant goes to work. That tenant is Rose Haven, a day shelter and community center serving women, children and gender-diverse people.

The shelter, founded in 1997 as a program of Catholic Charities, is moving to a new home soon. More space is sorely needed as demand for services has increased. For some time now, Rose Haven has outgrown the 3,500 square feet offered by the old Swedish church basement at 1816 NW Irving St.

A permanent, larger home for the shelter was found less than two blocks away at 1740 NW Glisan St. The new site provides 9,700 square feet of operation space and 2,000 square feet of basement storage. Rose Haven is in the midst of a $3 million fundraising campaign to fund the move and expansion.

The opening is scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8.

“If we are waiting on the Joint Office of Homeless Services to do something then we as a society have already failed,” Theriault said.
Starke is Rose Haven’s development director and she brings a keen understanding to this role. Starke comes from a background that is relatable to Rose Haven’s guests. She lost her home during her freshman year of high school when her father was sent to prison.

“My passion for this work is rooted in intersectional feminism,” Starke said. “In a capitalist society, the marginalizing impact of all the different ‘isms’ we are fighting in the social justice world ultimately result in poverty. For me, working at Rose Haven places me at that intersection where I can have the most impact and help people marginalized by their gender when they need it most. To truly be a feminist, we have to empower those who are in the most need.”

Referring to those who come to Rose Haven for help as “guests” is the first step, Starke said, in reclaiming their dignity. Most of the women who seek shelter have experienced some level of trauma and abuse. Domestic violence, Starke noted, is the primary factor forcing women to the streets. Rose Haven, funded entirely by private donations, fills gaps the government can’t and its services are crucial in a city overwhelmed by unhoused people.

The COVID-19 virus exacerbates an already dire situation. Many Rose Haven guests have endured almost two years of COVID restrictions and extreme weather events.

Denis Theriault is the communications coordinator for Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services. Before the pandemic, the office reported close to 4,000 unhoused people with 1,478 identifying as women, nonbinary or transgender. Theriault said that number is likely to rise when the “Point in Time” street count, which began Jan. 26, is completed.

“It’s been a rough past two years with COVID,” Theriault said. “Everyone knows there is a homeless crisis. Only now, it is much more visible.”

Day shelters like Rose Haven help mitigate the crisis, Theriault said, and buy-in from the local community is vital.

“If we are waiting on the Joint Office of Homeless Services to do something then we as a society have already failed,” Theriault said.

The amount of tents and campers on sidewalks and along highways has grown in Portland and across the country. Outside of Rose Haven, police routinely respond to reports of people yelling throughout the night and early morning hours.

“People are literally relying on Rose Haven to survive and get any respite from the elements,” Starke said. “I think most people know the shelters are all at capacity with wait lists … but a lot of people don’t realize what that means for people. When the night shelters are full, people come to Rose Haven for camp gear and because we don’t have overnight beds, we don’t have a limit on how many people we can serve daily, so we truly are bridging the gaps in service (as) the only resource many can access at all.”

In 2021, Rose Haven operated on a $1.3 million budget with a small staff of 13 and close to 900 volunteers annually. During the day, guests wait outside — adhering to COVID guidelines — oftentimes in cold and rainy conditions. Once inside, guests can see a nurse, social worker, browse for new clothes, get food, a shower and emergency supplies.

More space was needed to address increasing demands for services than could be accommodated by the small Northwest Irving Street location.

“Just imagine having to explain sensitive personal information with only a small room divider separating you from the next person,” Starke said.

That’s one of the reasons Rose Haven is on the move. The organization is scheduled to shift operations to a much larger warehouse space 1.5 blocks away on the corner of Northwest 18th Avenue and Glisan Street. The new location, currently under construction, will increase capacity to 11,700 square feet. More importantly, it will ensure privacy for the shelter’s guests.

“We want to welcome our guests back indoors after nearly two years of literally being locked outside with little to no access to public indoor spaces,” Starke said. “The fact that it is being built for them, with a trauma-informed design, will make this transition easier.”

There are examples of guests turning their life around with the shelter’s help. Starke shared the story of Dorothy, a Rose Haven guest for the last three years, who benefitted from the shelter in many ways.

Dorothy was able to get a birth certificate and I.D., financial assistance, bicycle, haircuts, hygiene kits, meals, showers and mail service through Rose Haven, Starke said.

“We are so overjoyed to say that now Dorothy has housing and is in her own apartment,” Starke said. “Not only this, she is now a registered student at Portland Community College with the pursuit of getting her women’s studies degree, to support other women in our community.”

Dorothy stays in contact with Rose Haven through email and phone calls and still drops by to participate in her favorite activity — Soul Collage, an art project allowing guests to ground themselves in a creative way.

“I love the ladies at Rose Haven for doing an amazing job in making sure that our needs are being met,” Dorothy wrote in a letter to Rose Haven staff. “I am so extremely busy with doctor’s appointments, school, work and anything else in between which would be the grocery shopping. I am so shocked and stunned that I have come so far in my life, and that I have been so blessed to be a huge part of it. I am sending good vibes your way.

“I just think that there are miracles out there and if people change just a little bit and realize that there is a better life out there, somewhere in the universe. Just wanted to let you know there are good vibes coming in your direction.”

For Rose Haven, those good vibes will be celebrated during the March 8 grand opening of the new facility.

Progress is being made at the old site, too. As the “Point in Time” count ramps up, calls for federal aid have increased. Theriault said local housing authorities need to deploy emergency vouchers, authorized by Congress last May, to vulnerable people.

“We still have to get it through everyone’s head that housing is a right,” Theraiult said.

Read the full article here: https://www.streetroots.org/news/2022/02/02/rose-haven-move