Safe Harbor homeless shelter in Traverse City to close early due to COVID concerns

Mar 30, 2020

Ryan Hannon with Goodwill of Northern Michigan checks a tent at a homeless camp in Traverse City
Credit Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The Safe Harbor homeless shelter in Traverse City will close early due to concerns over the coronavirus. Guests have until Wednesday, April 1 to leave the facility. 

A guest recently came down with COVID-like symptoms, according to Chairperson Mike McDonald. They eventually tested negative for the disease, but McDonald said their guests are at a higher risk of catching and spreading the disease by being inside the shelter. 

"If we’ve got the potential infection of everybody in the shelter, and everybody that's volunteered there, what are we gonna do?" McDonald said.

Safe Harbor is a seasonal facility that was scheduled to close later in April anyway. In the meantime, Dan Buron with Goodwill of Northern Michigan says they will give out more tents and hand-warmers to people experiencing homelessness and the unsheltered.

"We are familiar with the guests (of Safe Harbor) that will be transitioning," Buron said. "We're gonna try and make them as safe as possible in an unsheltered environment."

Buron and McDonald said county officials are working on more contingency plans for the area's homeless and unsheltered populations.