Administrators of The Harbor, a shelter for homeless and transient visitors through Miami, have signed a contract to purchase the building formerly known as "The Tree House" in Miami.
The purchase comes just more than a year after the facility was inundated with floodwater in 2007.
Harbor officials have placed $25,000 toward the purchase and expect to have an additional $20,000 in hand within 30 days to meet the agreed $45,000 downpayment.
The remainder of the $105,000 purchase price is to be presented within 90 days.
“We looked at a lot of buildings,” said the Rev. Phil Shyers, pastor of Apostolic Assembly and director of The Harbor. “This one is almost twice as big as our old building and about one third the cost of several others.
“Getting the money to pay for the building will be a classic case of ‘the Lord will provide.’”
A sizeable amount of money will also be needed to renovate the new building.
Shyers stressed that the new building has passed inspections by the city’s building inspector and the fire department.
“And it's out of the flood zone,” he said.
Since the flood, The Harbor has been housed in the basement of Apostolic Assembly Church in Miami.
“Twenty-one people were living in The Harbor at the time of the flood,” Shyers said. “I couldn't kick these disadvantaged people out on the street.”
The basement of his church, which had plumbing for showers, was renovated to house The Harbor’s residents.
“But, our (The Harbor's) capacity has been greatly diminished,” Shyers said.
The church facility can only accomodate a fraction of a growing need for shelter.
“Personally, I feel that homelessness is getting worse,” Shyers said. “We get at least one call a week from the Department of Human Services asking if The Harbor call help a family that's being evicted.”
Problems and needs of the original Soul’s Harbor — a small shelter facility that preceded The Harbor — were brought to the attention of the Tuesday Morning Prayer Group and the Ottawa County Ministerial Alliance seven years ago.
The name was changed and a building was purchased in Eastgate to house it.
It was estimated that it would take three years to pay off the purchase price and cost of renovations.
Because of the generosity of Miamians, it was paid for in less than two years.
Attending the signing for the new building, in addition to Land and Shyers, were Land's wife, Rebecca Land; Susanne Gabbard, Chris Floyd, Ed Walker and Terry Scott.
Floyd has two titles involved with the renovation of the building. In addition to being an advisor, he is reconstruction coordinator.
“I'll be doing what I can to see this project through,” Floyd said. “People don't realize the greater ramifications The Harbor has.
“I didn't realize the dramatic effect it has in transforming people's lives.
Shyers is associated with a group that assists the homeless in 13 counties in Northeastern Oklahoma.
“The Harbor is a very special place,” Shyers said. “As far as I know, it’s the only shelter in those 13 counties that accepts women and children.”