SALEM — With services to the homeless needed more than ever in Oregon’s capital city, the people behind Union Gospel Mission of Salem look forward to this month officially opening their big, new men’s facility.
“We’re really excited about this space,” said Mark Hunter, UGM’s director of development. “If you’ve been in the old builidng, you know — it’s a postage stamp.”
With a total 57,000 square feet, the new three-story, $15 million building at 777 Commercial St. N.E. is more than double the size of the longtime men’s facility at 345 Commercial. It will be formally opened Saturday, July 17, with a 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting, preceded by a Walk for Hope and Fun Run at 9 a.m.; those taking part can register at ugmsalem.org
A Christian faith-based nonprofit, the mission provides homeless services at both its men’s shelter and at its Simonka Place women’s shelter in Keizer. Hunter notes, however, that the new men’s facility is “so much more than a shelter.”
In pre-COVID times, the old men’s building could sleep 198 on beds and mats, along with providing meals, showers and job training. Pandemic restrictions limited the number of beds to 125.
In the new building, sleeping space — ranging from dorm-style shelters to transitional housing and apartment-style living space for people moving through UGM’s recovery program, will more than double to 300.
But it also will offers showers available even for those not staying at the shelter, 24-hour bathroom access, community rooms, career training, a education center, GED diploma program, on-site health clinic and access to mental health services. The dining space will be 220 percent larger, allowing staff and volunteers to join residents in meals.
“The greatest excitement for me is the greater level of opportunities we will have to provide a greater level of service for our clients, especially through mental health,” said Myron Jones, director of the men’s mission and the men’s ministry. “It’s just going to be a good opportunity for us to raise the bar of services for our homeless friends … the need is so incredibly great.”
Fundraising began in 2017, with $8.5 million raised through private donations and the rest through an affordable housing grant and sale of the existing mission building to the city government. Groundbreaking was in November 2019. Construction was to be completed last year, but hit some delays due to the pandemic and last fall’s wildfires.
Those interested in touring the facility should email
email@example.com. Building features include:
•A welcome center to address medical and food needs.
•A “hot baggage room” for intaking personal belongings. High temperatures in the room will help kill off certain contagions.
•A private room to allow for virtual medical and behavioral health appointments with a local clinic, JD Health and Wellness Center in Salem.
•A community room and chapel with a cross made from old-growth lumber recovered from an industrial building previously located on the property.
•Industrial laundry facilities for bedding and personal items.
•An outdoor patio and garden.
•A health room, which will host two nurses and a clinic to address foot maladies and injuries.
•A day room to allow people to escape the elements.
•A recovery room to accommodate up to 10 people who are sick and discharged from the hospital.
•Ten dorm-style rooms with 11 bunk beds each.
•Apartments for 20 transitioning through the mission program.
•A floor for more housing for about 60 people.
•A learning center with double the number of available computers for job and housing services, and a GED testing center.