Union Gospel Mission hopeful for $1.5 million in donations for new building

Union Gospel Mission Executive Director Dan Clem explains floor plans for the mission’s proposed upgrade. He told Salem Reporter he hopes to issue a site plan to the city of Salem this month. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

At an open house last Friday for Union Gospel Mission, Executive Director Dan Clem made it known he was ready to start building its upgraded facility.

“Hope has a new address,” he said. “We’re praying it will be 777.”

That’s just down the street from its current location at 885 Commercial St. N.E.

The nonprofit and homeless service provider is entering an important stretch in its fundraising to build a three-story, 55,000-square-foot facility.

“It’s the opportunity for the entire community to invest in the kinds of services we should be providing, in a facility that’s designed for recovery and shows dignity and respect,” Clem told Salem Reporter.

Since last March, the mission has aimed to raise $15 million for construction and some operations costs. It has about $6 million still to go, Clem said.

Of that, Clem says Union Gospel Mission will pay $3 million from grants and tax credits. The $2.9 million remaining will come from community donations, Clem said. Independent benefactors, who the mission declined to name, are willing to match dollar-for-dollar until May 31.

The facility will grow the number of beds from 200 to 300, while providing more space for service providers to help homeless people get into programs for housing, financial assistance and more. It would upgrade amenities like storage space, showers and laundry, as well.

Staff will also launch a voluntary, 18-month recovery program on the third floor called New Life Fellowship. Classes taught include overcoming any shame in being homeless and addressing common misconceptions about recovery.

The mission expects to give the city of Salem its site plan this month, an early step in the planning process that tells officials what the building will look like and how it will be used.

Clem said that if all goes well, he hopes to pull a demolition permit Oct. 1 to knock down their current administrative offices and subsequently start construction.

“There’s a ton of things between now and Oct. 1,” Clem said. “That’s what we’ve established as the milestone.”

The mission acquired the building that became its men’s shelter in 1958. Clem said repair and maintenance work are costly.

The organization’s latest financial report, audited by Johnson, Glaze and Co., show it made $7 million in revenue last year and spent $6.8 million.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB. Contact reporter Rachel Alexander at [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

Beds at Union Gospel Mission’s current facility on Commercial Street, pictured around noon last Friday. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)