Gospel Mission wants public money for renovation

The Union Gospel Mission has been authorized by the Aberdeen City Council to apply for a state Community Development Block Grant for $750,000 that would be used to renovate their Heron Street facility for homeless people.

The council voted Wednesday evening to approve the request. The mission wants to use the money to renovate the first floor of their building at 405-407 E. Heron. The mission provides the homeless showers, meals, help and beds for men.

Third of three phases

The plan is the third phase of ongoing rehabilitation of the mission. The grants are intended for low-income and blighted areas and are not to be used by non-profits unless they go through a partner such as the city.

If awarded, the funding will pay for upgrading the overall structure and includes an enlarged and relocated new kitchen, new showers, unisex bathrooms, day room operations, storage, a clothing bank, new entrances and managerial offices on the first floor, according to a letter by mission executive director Gary T. Rowell and an architectural plan attached to the request.

The architectural drawing also shows a planned dining area, of 1,091 square feet with a seating capacity of 78, as labeled “Chapel/Dining” on the first floor.

Mission board member and City Council President Pete Schave said at the council meeting that public money would be used for facility improvements that help the homeless and not for the chapel or any religious-oriented part of the new plans, which would be covered by private money.

Presumably, the funding will be apportioned, if awarded, though neither city Community Development Director Lisa Scott or Rowell could be reached to confirm that.

The mission was able to purchase and demolish a building to create a parking lot and build a 4,000 square foot warehouse on the back of the property with private and public funding in Phase I and II, completed in 2009.

In 2013, the mission served 37,029 meals to the homeless and provided “8,678 bednights for homeless men,” Rowell’s letter said.

Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, ehart@thedailyworld.com. Twitter: @DW_Erin


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