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This will help Tri-City homeless get off the street

Tri-City Union Gospel Mission’s dream nears reality

Andrew Porter, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission executive director, is excited about the organizations's newly constructed men's facility at 221 S. Fourth Ave. in Pasco. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Nov. 16.
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Andrew Porter, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission executive director, is excited about the organizations's newly constructed men's facility at 221 S. Fourth Ave. in Pasco. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Nov. 16.

The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission’s new addition is almost done after years of dreaming, planning and construction.

A ribbon cutting for the new men’s facility on South Fourth Avenue in Pasco is planned next month.

“We’re moving at mach speed” to finish up, said Andrew Porter, executive director.

He expects the mission to move its men’s operations into the new 40,000-square-foot facility in December.

The new space has 162 beds, including emergency shelter beds and more private bunk areas.

It also has a day room, a computer lab, classrooms, a chapel, a commercial kitchen and a dining room, among other features.

The facility will replace the aging, cramped men’s shelter nearby on North Second Avenue.

That facility dates to the early 1900s. While mission leaders have worked hard to maintain it, it’s showing its age — and it’s too small.

The current mission has 55 beds, with room for another 50 men to sleep on the floor, but at times even that isn’t enough to meet demand.

GospelMissionvolunteer
Volunteer Gloria Diaz helps assembles bed frames during a recent work party at the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission’s new men’s facility. The facility is scheduled to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 16. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

The lack of space has limited the number of case workers who can be brought on to help the men get back on their feet.

“When I look at (the old facility), I see how fast our community is growing. The building was built in 1911. Not only is it falling apart, but it’s far too small for the type of work we’re doing with people. There’s no privacy. We can’t hire more people,” Porter said.

But the new men’s facility “gives us a place to work,” Porter said.

The project price tag is about $9.2 million, with most of the money coming from community donations.

Siefken & Sons Construction is the builder.

While demand for men’s services is far greater, the mission also has a shelter for women and children.

A new facility to replace that shelter is envisioned in Kennewick in the future.

The mission has about 23 employee, a mix of full- and part-time.

It serves 72,000 meals a year and provides 37,000 nights of shelter.

It’s taking a proactive step with the new men’s facility, as the number of homeless around the country grows, Porter said.

“We’re one business that’s not trying to grow, but we have to grow in the facility and the things we can do to help people,” he said. “Our hope really is to eliminate homelessness one person at a time.”

The mission largely relies on donations to keep operating.

While the capital campaign for the new men’s facility has brought in millions, the organization has seen the donations it can use for operations drop some this year — by about 13 percent through August.

Porter said giving typically picks up toward the end of the year, but the mission still is tracking down.

To help, go to www.tcugm.org.

The ribbon cutting for the new men’s facility is at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 16 at the site, 221 S. Fourth Ave.

A flag raising to honor homeless veterans is planned at 11 a.m.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529
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