PORTLAND, Ore. — Rose Haven will celebrate the grand opening of their newly constructed and expanded shelter and community center on March 8, which is also International Women's Day.
The new facility on the corner of Northwest 18th and Glisan Street will allow the nonprofit to double the number of people — women, children and marginalized genders — they serve. The nonprofit provides restrooms and showers, meals, a space for mail distribution and device charging and special outdoor activities.
The expansion comes at a critical time as more people have been forced outside amid pandemic restrictions over the last two years.
"To call it a crisis is, I think, a bit of an understatement at this point," said Cody Jane Baker, a member of the Board of Directors for Rose Haven. "A lot of people complain, but not a lot of people do things about it... Rose Haven is very unique in that way. That we are here to do something about it. This is a grassroots organization. It is built one dollar at a time."
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Ahead of the grand opening, staff are preparing and putting finishing touches on the space, ready to welcome guests starting at 9 a.m. for morning services next Tuesday.
"We are in the process of making this a welcoming, loving warm space for anyone who may need it," Baker said.
For her, the mission of Rose Haven is personal.
"Six years ago, I was battling alcoholism and after anyone and everyone who knew me did the best that they could, they finally said you’ve got to figure this out."
Baker said she ended up staying in a woman's shelter in downtown Portland.
"I originally found Rose Haven because somebody told me that that’s where you should go to get the best clothes... I walked in and found this amazing community of women who were wanting to help women and children."
She explained that Rose Haven met her where she was that day. That type of care and compassion kept her coming back for other services.
"They helped me navigate where to go to get things done. That's the hardest part when you are in that situation. There's so much going on around you that you really need someone to look you in the eye and be like 'This is step one. This is step two, step three."
Rose Haven is a low barrier shelter, meaning people who come by aren't required to be sober or clean. Baker said the only qualification is to act like a decent person.
In addressing homelessness on a larger scale, Baker believes that element is essential.
"We need to get people in housing before you worry about their sobriety. It is very difficult to get sober in the shelter. It's very difficult because it's all around you, no matter what kind of barriers are there," she said. "This is a triage space. This will help you get to those areas, but before you can think about becoming sober or getting your mental health in line, you might need a clean pair of panties. You might need to brush your teeth. And that is what we do here."