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Shelter for homeless moms, women hopes Mother's Day fundraiser can help with needed move

Rose Haven's move, to a former coffee shop and warehouse three times larger than their current facility, is happening because the need is skyrocketing.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After more than a decade operating out of a 3,500-square-foot church basement, staff at Portland’s only day shelter for women and children is launching a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign to help them move to a space three times as large.

The good news is, Rose Haven is staying in its beloved Nob Hill neighborhood. The bad news is, the move is happening because the need for their services is skyrocketing.

“We’ve experienced about 10 to 15% growth every year for the last 10 years,” said executive director Katie O’Brien.

Those stats, O’Brien noted, were the norm pre-COVID. Now, experts believe homelessness rates are spiking nationally. Instances of domestic violence appear to be up, too. The “tidal wave” in need, as O’Brien put it, has already started to hit.

“We’re sort of bracing ourselves for the inevitable reality that more people are going to need us,” she said.

With that urgency top of mind, Rose Haven staff and volunteers are planning intentional, trauma-informed renovations to their newly-leased future home: the old World Cup Coffee shop and warehouse at Northwest 18th Avenue and Glisan Street, which is just two blocks south of their current home at Northwest 18th and Irving.

The floor plan includes a welcoming lobby, a laundry facility, private showers and enclosed offices where clients can meet with service providers, to devise plans for securing housing or seeking addiction and mental health treatment. O’Brien added Rose Haven also works to find members of the LGBTQ community resources that are specific to their needs.

“Everything is being looked at through a trauma-informed lens,” she said. “How much we can spread people out? How people can have better private conversations? What is noise like? What is lighting like?”

To fund those renovations and move in by January 2022, Rose Haven’s staff are hoping to raise $3 million. They’re kicking off that fundraising campaign with their big, annual Mother’s Day event: Reigning Roses.

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In years past, it’s been marked by a large indoor party and drumline-led parade, giving the women and families seeking help at Rose Haven a chance to celebrate their progress and thank their neighborhood. In 2020, COVID forced the fundraiser entirely online.

This year, O’Brien said the parade will go on; it will just be socially distanced, allowing people to walk with their “bubbles” and, as part of the route, tour the new space.

Anyone who can’t make the May 9th parade can give online anytime, by clicking here. They can even make a donation in someone else’s name.

Rose Haven’s past clients are helping spread the word about the new space and why it’s needed. That includes Cody Jane Baker. She came to the shelter five years ago, struggling with alcoholism. Now, she's sober, working in healthcare and excited to see Rose Haven grow.

“It's mind-boggling. It's mind-blowing. I'm so proud of what they've been able to accomplish,” Baker said in an interview Wednesday. “Rose Haven loves everyone, and that is the unique thing about Rose Haven. If you need help, they'll help you.”

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