Beds at Union Gospel Mission's current facility on Commercial Street, pictured in March 2019. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

City officials are floating the idea of using the Union Gospel Mission on 345 Commercial St. as homeless shelter when the mission vacates the space for its new facility across from the police station.

“There’s no decision but it is an idea,” said Gretchen Bennett, the city’s homelessness liaison.

She said she's working with the urban renewal department, which has had redevelopment plans for that property for years, to determine if it’s feasible.

Union Gospel Mission plans to open its new facility on 745 Commercial St. N.E. next month, doubling the number of men it can serve to 300. Under Covid restrictions the shelter was operating at reduced capacity.

About 500 people are expected to be kicked out of both Wallace Marine and Cascades Gateway parks on June 1 as the city ends camping it has allowed there for more than a year due to the Covid pandemic.

Bennett said the city could hold on to the soon-to-be former shelter space downtown to continue providing homeless services, but that decision would be up to the Salem City Council.

“It might help us in the short term to bridge the gap,” she said. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] 

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