top of page

The Refuge in Otsego County

Remains committed to the cause of homelessness by providing emergency overnight shelter to those in need.



The Fall brings the re-opening of The Refuge in Otsego County, a homeless program for those experiencing homelessness in Otsego County. Starting its 11th season, the Refuge is under new day to day management. “We are excited to announce that Judi Doan, a long-time Gaylord resident and community activist has accepted the role of Shelter Coordinator upon the retirement of Chris Czajkowski,” said Sue Smith, President of the Refuge. “She brings a history deep in community involvement and service to others; most will remember her as the long- time Assistant Director of Community Mediation Services, the 2015 Der Buergermeister for Alpenfest, multi-time Past President of Kiwanis, active RSVP volunteer, and someone always ready to pitch in to solve a problem. We feel very fortunate that she has decided to join in our mission.”

The Refuge opened again October 3rd and is already very busy. Its mission is to provide emergency shelter to those who are literally homeless during the cold months through short-term use of local hotel rooms. It provides those in need a few days to have safe, warm shelter, housing resource assistance, and help to navigate community resources while considering next steps toward more permanent housing. It guides clients to area social services far beyond just housing resources enabling them to address all causes of their homelessness. Anyone who is experiencing homelessness can call The Refuge at 989-350-8231 or visit the Refuge office in the United Way building at 116 E. 5 th Street, Gaylord. Office hours are 9am- 1pm M-W-F and noon to 4 pm T-Th. The website also provides an opportunity to request help or to make referrals for assistance at

In looking back at her first month with the Refuge, Doan identifies the biggest challenge as the clear lack of enough low-income housing for the number of clients who need it. “The number of clients is going up but the availability of low income/affordable housing has gone down. We are experiencing a very difficult time finding housing for clients – despite the fact that many are working. If we can’t find an answer to the shortage of housing we are going to lose valuable resources in our workforce and in our community. The situation is serious,” she concluded. If you have a housing unit to rent to clients of The Refuge, please call 989-350-8231 or email If you would like to donate to support the work of the Refuge, you may do so electronically at or you can send a check made payable to “The Refuge” to P.O. Box 44, Gaylord, MI 49734. The Refuge is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.





If you know of someone who needs housing services, please call The Refuge Office at 989-732-8929 and ask for The Refuge or submit a confidential referral on this website. Thank you for your assistance.

What Do We Do?

People in need can complete an online “Request for Help” or call 989.350.8231 (ask for The Refuge). Family, friends and others can make a confidential referral for help if they know or suspect someone is homeless. 


Change Lives

We provide overnight emergency shelter in Otsego County during the colder months – moving individuals from cars, tents, or other living arrangements, to safe accommodations.


Help to Guide


Homeless services are available but few know how to access them. The Refuge acts as “navigator” to help individuals find the resources they need and to create a “Moving Forward Plan” so they can go from homeless to housed.

Stones of Meaning

Provide Hope


We provide breathing room - a rest from the stress of homelessness - so individuals can concentrate on next steps to end their homelessness.


Provide Stability


We provide housing until clients can, working their Moving Forward Plan, get themselves started on a new positive path.

In Gratitude

Over the years, the Refuge has enjoyed the financial support of so many - area churches, friends and businesses providing gifts of money and in-kind services. We are so grateful for the continuing assistance over the past few years of various funds of the Otsego Community Foundation.


In 2021, The Barbara and Frank Rock Family Fund of OCF generously provided funding so we could re-establish, expand, and update this website. Thank you all.

bottom of page