Harbor House was established in the 1970s to address the ever-growing need for services to victims and survivors of domestic violence. A small group of people met around a kitchen table in Kankakee to discuss how to begin services. The first step was a network of volunteers’ homes and safe homes.
Soon, a local church leased a home to the group — now known as Harbor House — but at that time the Kankakee City Council rejected an ordinance that would have allowed the opening of an emergency shelter. After being denied permission by the Kankakee City Council to open a shelter in a residential area, Harbor House received approval to open a shelter on the outskirts of Kankakee.
After nearly three years of political struggles, Harbor House’s emergency shelter opened in 1986. A satellite shelter opened in Watseka in 1987, but closed years later due to lack of funds.
Today, Harbor House continues to operate a full-service shelter while also offering a 24-hour hotline, emergency and counseling services, and advocacy for domestic violence survivors and their children. The Resale Shoppe in Watseka operates to help provide funding for these services.