A rendering of Union Gospel Mission of Salem's new men's mission. The organization will break ground Nov. 1. (Courtesy/Union Gospel Mission of Salem)
Now’s the time to build, according to Dan Clem, executive director of Union Gospel Mission of Salem.
The Christian-based homeless services provider will break ground Nov. 1 on a new men’s mission, even though it is still about $800,000 short of its fundraising goal.
The new men’s mission is designed as a three-story, 55,000-square-foot facility near downtown. It will double the number of beds for homeless people to 300, and provide storage, 24-hour bathrooms, showers and laundry. Clem said UGM hopes to move in March 1, 2021.
The price tag is $15 million, a goal the organization has been trying to meet since March 2018. About half of that comes from a patchwork of grants and tax credits, as well as proceeds from selling the current mission at 345 Commercial St. N.E. That building is in escrow until the new facility is ready to open.
Clem believes the new cash will materialize. He’s confident donors will come through in the coming months as he said they have recently.
“In August we needed $1.7 million (total), and then in September we needed $1.3 million. Here we are in October and we need a little over $800,000. People really want to see this jewel for the community become a reality,” he said.
If all the money doesn’t come, however, Clem said there could be changes to the project. He said the organization wouldn’t change anything about the services like the showers and bathrooms. He pointed, as an example, making an outdoor canopy cloth instead of metal or deleting some outdoor lights.
“God will provide,” he said. “He always has.”
Clem said starting construction sooner will also lock in some of the construction prices before they can rise more.
“When you see (the costs of) rebar and steel go up 20% in Portland, a year and a half later you see it go up in Salem,” he said. “It’s not scientific, but it’s pretty obvious when Portland experiences prices increases, we’re not far behind.”
Located at 745 Commercial St. N.E., the facility will stand across the street from the new Salem Police Department headquarters, under construction and slated to open September 2020. That project is $11 million more expensive than what taxpayers were told two years ago.
Clem on Tuesday described an image of people driving into town and seeing the two buildings on either side of Commercial Street.
“You come into town and see this beautiful public safety facility on the east side of Commercial. And on the west side you see this beautiful men’s mission,” he said. “They’re both beautifully constructed, but represent only how Salem views its own safety but the safety and character of the people who are less fortunate.”
The groundbreaking ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 1 and the public is invited.
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