Hello, Grace Haven supporter. I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this pandemic. I want to provide you with an update on our project. Grace Haven was a homeless shelter for 32 years which my late grandmother operated for nearly a quarter of a century. Since she has passed, I have taken on the task of creating a new and revitalized Grace Haven Center.
I have a new and exciting vision to share! After much consideration, I have decided to go in another direction for Grace Haven. As you may recall from the previous campaign, a mentor and myself had picked a business model of bringing social service agencies into the building. At the time, it was a relief to find a business model that would easily satisfy funding requirements; however, I pondered and wrestled with the viability of that particular model. I always believed Grace Haven was a home and should remain as a shelter for anyone in need. Furthermore, I want the facility to be used as a solution to a serious problem in the community, and one in particular is local youth with no place to go. After praying and meditating with precious time going by, I have decided that Grace Haven will be a homeless shelter for youth. Currently, there are kids sleeping on couches that do not have a home in our community and other counties. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy in 2019, one in 30 unaccompanied youth ages 12-17 will experience homelessness in a given year. This number then jumps to one in 10 from ages 18-24. Grace Haven is one possible solution for our youth experiencing homelessness to come seek shelter, rehabilitate, and return home healthy. Details of the program will be announced in a forthcoming press release.
Another problem in Jackson is the high prevalence of chronic health-related diseases. I am looking to partner with organizations to explore ways to combat these health issues in our community and host workshops for anyone to attend. With these new plans, such partnerships will better serve the community by solving our youth crisis and managing health conditions. I now know for sure that this model will make my late grandmother, Billie Oliver, and the late Dorothy Williams, the original founder, both proud. My intention from the beginning was to not let this facility go to waste. The good news is that the building was recently inspected by the city and a local contractor last month and both said that Grace Haven just needs some tender loving care. I have reached out to the mayor of Jackson and wrote a letter to city council at a recent town hall virtual meeting to outline our intentions to rehabilitate the home and to request assistance from local authorities if possible.
In order to meet Grace Haven’s mission of serving our youth and community, we must first pay property taxes and avoid tax foreclosure. Everyone including myself was under the impression after the reinstatement of the 501c3 status in April 2018 that Grace Haven was stopped from being assessed property taxes. However, after receiving the denial letter from the city of Jackson for property tax exemption, I contacted Grace Haven’s lawyer who did some legal research and found a tax exemption case. In 2008, The Michigan Supreme Court made a decision in the case of Liberty Hill Housing Corporation versus the city of Livonia. The high court ruled in favor for the city of Livonia to deny a charitable tax exemption for a nonprofit organization, Liberty Hill Housing Corporation, that leased housing to low income tenants. The high court also stated that a nonprofit organization at a minimum must have a regular presence on the property such as residents or tenants occupying the building. Therefore, we must pay property taxes until the grand opening day. This tax obligation is a tough pill to swallow, but we plan on paying the taxes because our mission of ultimately serving our youth and community outweighs any financial setbacks.
In short, we need to raise $2,244 by March 31st 2021. Once we obtain our first goal, then we will need to fundraise at least $150 per month to cover tax bills and housing inspection invoices until we open the facility. Although we are not yet open to serve the community, we currently have city-related bills that must be paid. It’s a hassle, but once we open and hear the potential success stories we can look back on this day and say that we all contributed to something positive for the greater good and that honored the legacies of our civic-minded founders.
For questions and concerns, please email me at
Thank you for your continued support!
Grace Haven was incorporated on December 19th 1980 and opened in 1981. Here is a story from the Jackson Citizen Patriot