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. 

Max Johnston

Homeless shelters and nonprofits are getting headcounts of the homeless across the country this month. The data goes to the federal government for homelessness prevention. But this year's count in northern Michigan happened to fall on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Think about this: providing enough meat to make more than half a million meals for people in need. That's over 100,000 pounds of meat, and much of it is venison.

That's the remarkable result of of Tom Cullimore's work through his effort called HOPE: Help Other People Eat. 

New Hope Shelter

Efforts to expand a homeless shelter in Cadillac have been put on hold after public opposition. New Hope Shelter has five locations in the Cadillac area, including shelters for men, women and families.

The organization was planning to move its men’s shelter to a larger building near the downtown to meet growing demand for beds, but opponents had a number of complaints. Among them, opponents said the location would negatively affect Cadillac’s downtown revitalization efforts and was not in line with Cadillac's master plan.

Brauker gets year in prison for homeless assault

Mar 1, 2017
Aaron Selbig

A judge sentenced a Traverse City man to one year in prison for assaulting a homeless man last July.

For the first time since his arrest, 19-year-old Maayingan Brauker admitted to the crime at his sentencing hearing in 86th District Court Tuesday. 

Jury finds Brauker guilty in homeless assault

Jan 30, 2017
Aaron Selbig

A Traverse City man was convicted Monday of assaulting a homeless man.

After a day-long trial, jurors found 19-year-old Maayingan Brauker guilty of assaulting David Whitney, who was kicked and punched last July while sleeping near Central United Methodist Church.

Peter Payette

Hate crime laws, with their roots in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, were originally intended to protect people from violence based on their race or religion.

Man charged in assault on homeless camp

Jul 19, 2016

A Traverse City man has been charged with assaulting a group of homeless men earlier this month.

Prosecutors allege 19-year-old Maayingan Brauker attacked the men twice. The victims were kicked and had firecrackers and stones thrown at them as they slept behind near Central United Methodist Church on July 6th and 7th.

Prosecutors allege Brauker attacked eight men who were sleeping at the camp and two of the victims were hurt badly enough to be taken to the hospital.


Who are Michigan's homeless students? And how does being homeless affect their education?

These are crucial questions for the state, as education plays an important role in homeless students' ability to escape the chains of poverty and homelessness.

Joshua Cowen is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. He recently published a study examining these important questions. His study reveals exactly who Michigan's homeless students are and where they come from. It also reveals how homelessness affects a students performance in schools.

Peter Payette

Police in Traverse City are investigating a pair of attacks on homeless men this week. The victims were kicked, and had firecrackers and stones thrown at them. 

Two were injured badly enough to be taken to the hospital. David Whitney has a broken nose and 27 stitches on his forehead, above his eye and, he says, inside his mouth. His left eye is swollen and blue. 

"They came back in here three times to continue," Whitney says of the attacks. "[They] dragged me down there ... kicking the stuffing out of me.

Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse

The Safe Harbor homeless shelter in Traverse City will have a permanent home. Monday night, the city commission agreed to sell an unused city building on Wellington Street to Safe Harbor for $50,000.

The deal says the building must be a functioning shelter by 2018. After 10 years of operation, Safe Harbor would own the property outright.

Safe Harbor Board Chairman Peter Starkel said his group is ready for the next step.

It's impossible to know just how many homeless veterans are on America's streets.

The federal government estimates that there are nearly 50,000 vets who are homeless on any given night.

The National Coalition on Homeless Veterans tells us they've served in every conflict from World War II right up to Iraq and Afghanistan, although nearly half of homeless veterans served in Vietnam.

The reasons they are homeless are many: lack of affordable housing, inability to make a livable income, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

You might have heard of Camp Take Notice, the tent city in Ann Arbor that was forced to close nearly three years ago.

Viviana Pernot has made a short documentary film about that homeless community and the non-profit group that helps them.

The Traverse City Human Rights Commission thinks homeless people in Traverse City are being treated unfairly. The commission passed a non-binding “Bill of Rights” for homeless people at its meeting last night.

The document lists ten rights, including being able to move freely “without harassment or intimidation.” Commissioner Patricia Nugent says the idea came after the commission heard about some of the abuses suffered by homeless people.

Peter Payette

Just before Thanksgiving at IPR, we hear the story of a family in difficult or unusual circumstances. This year, we meet a group of people who you might not think of as a family – but they do. They’ve lost a lot of members in the last year, people who might have been forgotten but are not thanks to a little house in Traverse City.

Safe Harbor gets 'yes' vote from TC commission

Nov 18, 2014
Aaron Selbig

Traverse City commissioners gave their approval Monday night to turn a city-owned building into an emergency homeless shelter. The five-to-two vote came after a long and contentious debate that has sharply divided the community. 

Before Monday night’s vote, the public had one more chance to weigh in the proposed Safe Harbor shelter.  Opponents– many of whom live and work in the neighborhood where it would be located – voiced concerns about safety and the potential cost to the city. 

Cold weather is here and that means an extra-challenging time for the homeless.

Melissa Golpe is with Covenant House Michigan. It's an organization that helps thousands of homeless kids in the Detroit area.

This Thursday night, they've invited business leaders to spend one night on the streets to raise money and feel what it's like to have no place to go as the temperature drops.

Golpe joined us today with 22-year old Steven Brown - a resident at Covenant House. 

Listen to our conversation with them below:

Planners give OK to Safe Harbor proposal

Oct 8, 2014
Aaron Selbig

The Traverse City Planning Commission has approved a controversial plan to open a homeless shelter off Eighth Street. The 5-to-3 vote came after another long round of public hearing last night.

Supporters of the Safe Harbor shelter say it’s needed to keep the city’s homeless population safe during the harsh winter months. But many local residents in the Boardman neighborhood say the shelter will lower property values and pose a danger to nearby schools.

Commissioner Tim Werner says the whole idea of the shelter is to keep the homeless off the streets.

A controversial plan to build a homeless shelter off Eighth Street, near the troubled Traverse City business corridor, faces a critical Tuesday night. The Planning Commission will take public comment and possibly vote to move the proposal to the city commission.

Christie Minervini, fundraising chair for Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse Inc., says she’s been rallying supporters ahead of the meeting. But she worries some will stay home because of a confusing headline on the front page of the Traverse City Record-Eagle Monday.

When you see people who are homeless, especially young people, it can be easy to make assumptions about their lives. At least that’s what Robert Sporny says.

And he says your assumptions about homeless youth are probably wrong. As a baby, he was adopted, and his childhood with his adopted family was difficult. 

There was alcoholism and abuse in the family. On the last day of high school, at age 17, Sporny decided to permanently leave the situation.

“And I got on my bicycle and basically rode all the way across town to a friend’s house," Sporny said.

A new residential project for chronic alcoholics opened earlier this month in Garfield Township. "Dann's House" is a so-called "wet house," a place where homeless people with severe alcoholism can live - and drink - in a permanent home.

Karen McCarthy is secretary of the board for Stoneshouse, the non-profit group that opened Dann's House August 1st. She says the project is named for her brother, Dann.

A coalition of churches now hopes to open a shelter in Traverse City with 90 beds sometime early in 2015. Safe Harbor submitted formal paperwork today.

City leaders recently approved new zoning rules that would allow a shelter of up to 100 beds. But some neighbors near this proposed shelter have complained that would be too large for the area.

Safe Harbor Chairman Peter Starkel says the group is responding to concerns.

Homeless People Are Becoming Writers In Traverse City

Jul 22, 2014
David Cassleman

Some homeless people in Traverse City are writing stories for the first time in their lives.

They’re doing it for a new magazine called “Speak Up Traverse City” -- that launches this week.

Organizers of the magazine have formed a writing workshop, where homeless people are finding their voices as writers.   

Traverse City Defines Rules For Homeless Shelters

Jul 8, 2014

In a split vote Monday, the Traverse City Commission gave final approval to new rules governing homeless shelters. The move paves the way for formal debate over a specific emergency shelter proposal. Safe Harbor, which is made up of a consortium of churches that take turns housing the homeless in the winter months, wants to open a 100-bed facility off Eighth Street on Wellington.

Leaders of Safe Harbor say they believe their plans will pass muster under these new rules, and they hope to open Traverse City’s first homeless shelter before the end of the year.