(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Union Gospel Mission, a non-profit serving Portland since 1927, has raised $17.2 million for their new building aimed at sheltering homeless women and children. One development assistant says it’s nowhere near enough.
The non-profit launched its capital campaign in 2020, with a vision for a brick-and-mortar location for its Life Change program, where residents can begin what it calls, “The Journey Home.” However, inflation and supply chain issues have set that journey back. According to UGM’s website, construction costs have risen sharply, resulting in a $12.1 million shortfall.
The urgency isn’t just a matter of numbers. UGM Development Officer Kristi York says, “I was just there touring… Walls are getting up, but there’s no roof yet.” Encroaching weather means the partially constructed building will be left exposed during the winter if they can’t come up with funds to continue construction.
UGM is trying to stay positive in spite of this setback. “It hasn’t extinguished our fire, but now we realize it’s a slow burn to get this building complete and get our women and children into this space, “ said development assistant Colette Eaton.
“It would be such a loss if we had to leave the building out to the elements,” she added.“We’re looking at $3.8 million just to make the building watertight and protect our investment.” With that level of funding, they could safely put the project on hold through the winter months.
The Life Change Program at UGM helps women fleeing domestic violence and/or addiction, providing 13 months of educational programming aimed at successfully re-entering the workforce. Transitioning out of homelessness is made easier by its secure housing, onsite counseling, and childcare, according to its website. York tells us the program has had an 80.5% success rate in the past five years, meaning all of those women are sober and working.
Once completed, the current residents of Life Change will move from their current 1930s rented building, into the new space that features a restaurant-style kitchen, classrooms, and even a functioning preschool on the property.
Additional private family suites and a fully staffed counseling department will help UGM go from serving 20 women and their children to more than 200 people.
To support the capital campaign or find out more about the mission, visit UGM’s website.