Safe Harbor is a shelter program that attempts to create community between those in need and those who are able to help.
We do this through:
Rotating locations through the cold months.
Providing evening and morning meals.
Organizing volunteers who make themselves available to talk to, socialize with, and serve our guests.
Constantly working to improve our organization and base of support.
GT Safe Harbor rejects the following purposes:
Expectations of requirements that guests participate in studies or worship services in exchange for involvement in any GT Safe Harbor Programs.
Any way of gaining financial advantage from guests, such as recruiting them a tenants, selling goods or services, or asking for donations in return for our services.
The History of Safe Harbor
2003, the First Church of the Nazarene in Traverse City began offering a community meal program for homeless people. Later that same year, they added an emergency overnight shelter on the coldest nights. In the first season, as many as twenty-six guests per night were staying in the church.
The following year, several other churches became involved, and the program became a rotating shelter throughout the winter months. By the 2011-2012 season, Safe Harbor provided 5,540 bed-nights and more than 11,000 meals to 158 different homeless men and women.
In 2013, demand created a need for permanent shelter. After an extensive search, a group of volunteers was approached by City Commissioner Jim Carruthers with an offer to help connect us to 517 Wellington Street (which was being used for storage and slated for disposal by the city).
As we end the 2019 season, in the over 150 days in operation, Safe Harbor’s volunteer army of over 1900 people will host more than 11,250 bed nights and serve over 22,500 meals as we host our guests for 14 hours each day (all day during blizzards and unsafe temperatures). This represents 270+ unique individuals (25% women) who sought shelter with us because they had no other option.
As has always been the case, our 100% volunteer organization provides this important community safety net without government funding or support.
Timeline of Development
- 2013 – Searching and Jim’s Suggestion
- February 2014 – Brought a Lease Proposal to City Commission
- Summer 2014 – Reapproached as a Non-Profit Corporation
- Summer 2014 – New Zoning Created
- August 2014 – Safe Harbor Applies for SLUP
- January 2015 – SLUP is issues
- Summer 2015 We Welcome Marty Colburn
- Fall 2015 Offer to purchase 517 Wellington is sent to the city.
- March 2016 – Purchase Agreement Signed
- July 15 2016 – Safe Harbor buys 517 Wellington
- July 17, 2016 – Our first donor
- November 2016 – Construction begins
- October 2017 – Construction Ends
- November 2017 – Operations begin at 517 Wellington Street
517 Wellington prior to purchase (2015)
Mold in 50% of building
No functioning HVAC
Flooding issues from alley (now Station Street) into the kitchen area
No drainage or water management
Parking lot dilapidated
Investment to 517 Wellington
Complete gutting of interior
Replacement of siding
New Parking Lot
New HVAC / Electrical / Plumbing
Rain water draining field
All new doors / windows
Polished all floors
7 Bathroom Stalls
5 Sleeping areas for 82 guests
9 Interior office sized rooms
2 additional restrooms
Total investment $1,700,000
Safe Harbor 517 Wellington Grand Opening (November 2017)
Safe Harbor Today
State of the art bedding
“Operations Center” 14 Video Cameras
Shower and automated lighting control
Keyless Entry System
Commercial Kitchen (Able to handle a 90 person capacity)
Housing and Human Resource Center (Spaces available for housing partners)
Fully appointed medical and behavioral health spaces
TV Room, Chapel, Check In Center
Guest Computer Workstations
Cell phone charging lockers