We are proud to announce that survivors of domestic abuse in Central Florida now have a new place to seek shelter. On Friday, Nov. 18, Harbor House opened the doors of its newest facility, the Morgan & Morgan Safe Home in Apopka, Florida.
Harbor House is an organization that works to prevent and eradicate domestic abuse in Central Florida through support, shelter, and guidance for survivors, and education for the community. Its work is now more important than ever, because in 2015, there were 107,666 reports of domestic violence in Florida, up from 106,882 reports the year before, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The new shelter will help Harbor House work to get domestic violence trending down next year.
The state of the art facility will greatly expand Harbor House’s capacity to help victims of domestic abuse following the closure of two shelters earlier this year.
"It is a great day in our world," interim CEO of Harbor House, Laurel Lynch, told WKMG News in Orlando. "Our current shelter, which we are bursting at the seams, cannot house all the calls on any given night and so we have people on couches."
The closure of those two shelters reduced available space for victims of domestic abuse from 102 to 46, according to Lynch. However, Harbor House never turns anyone away, meaning many adults and their children were forced to sleep on cots, air mattresses, and sofas, with no privacy. Yet, this was necessary due the unsafe conditions that had developed in the two homes that closed.
Ultima Morgan first got involved with Harbor House when they were funding the pet shelter. Once that was built, she took a tour of the campus and realized they needed to participate in building a new housing facility.
"It was rough. I mean, she showed us where the floors were rotting. I think one of the stoves was actually falling through. … They didn't have a hard time winning our support," Ultima Morgan told the Orlando Sentinel last year.
Now, the new Morgan & Morgan Safe Home will make those facilities a distant memory.
The Morgan & Morgan Safe Home is a 27,5000-square-foot facility that cost $7.4 million to build. The shelter will have 20 rooms, 120 beds, two kitchens and two bullet proof safe rooms, and will give Harbor House the ability to protect more adults and their children than before, but in a more dignified manner.
The home will also provide help for the children of domestic abuse victims who seek shelter there. The facility was built with a playground, two playrooms, and a teen room for older children. Now, children can still run around, play, and generally feel like children even though they are essentially hiding out at the shelter.
If you would like to contribute to Harbor House, you can visit the organization's website to learn more about how you can help.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, Harbor House is a safe place for you. Harbor House will help anyone in need, and never turns anyone away. For more information, you can visit the Harbor House website or call its 24-hour crisis line at 407-886-2856.