Letter To The Editor
Shelter Questions Answered
In his November column, Ron Jolly asks a number of questions about the Safe Harbor shelter proposal. Most of the answers have been public for nearly a year at www.gtsafeharbor.org.
Knowing our need, City Commissioner Jim Carruthers suggested the City’s building at 517 Wellington could be better used with Safe Harbor. (The City has a long history of providing its property for use by local nonprofits for “community good.”) The majority of those sitting on the Commission agreed. They believe that public health and safety is a City responsibility and that partnering like this is a cost-effective way to prevent death and injury in the wintertime.
As for Mr. Jolly’s questions regarding economic development and property values — there is absolutely no evidence that a well-run emergency shelter can’t peacefully exist in this development area. The studies I’ve seen show that property values actually rise in blighted areas surrounding a shelter.
And where crime and safety are concerned, we know that a person experiencing homelessness isn’t any more likely to commit a crime than someone who is housed. The vast majority of police calls regarding the homeless in Traverse City are nuisance calls, usually related to their lack of a permanent residence. TCPD confirms that calls are dramatically reduced during the Safe Harbor season, and our community saves hundreds of thousands of dollars on emergency services because the homeless are not only safer, but healthier too.
This is not only the right thing to do — it also makes good business sense.