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Union Gospel Mission seeks an expanded shelter for women and children

The Union Gospel Mission Inland Northwest is considering a vacant nursing home in northeast Spokane for an expanded crisis shelter for women and children.

The facility at Illinois Avenue and Hogan Street would have a capacity of 130.

It is 30,000 square feet with 32 rooms.

The existing crisis shelter, in a former motel at 1234 E. Sprague Ave., has capacity for 87 a night, Executive Director Phil Altmeyer said.

The mission has been seeking an expanded crisis shelter for women and children for the past three years and was making plans to build a new facility when an opportunity to buy the former St. Mark Senior Living center came up, he said.

The owner is listed as Hogan Place LLC.

“It is just day and night different,” Altmeyer said. “We are pretty excited this building became available.”

Funding for the project has been underway with contributions from supporters.

Being able to move into an existing facility will shorten the time it takes to vacate the former motel on East Sprague and provide expanded service, he said.

The city requires a conditional use permit to operate the facility as a shelter. The permit application is subject to a public hearing before the city hearing examiner, which has not been scheduled.

The move will provide the shelter with a cafeteria area where families can gather for meals. Currently, the shelter residents eat inside their rooms.

“It’s quite a contrast when you see what we have and what we will have,” Altmeyer said.

Plans call for creating a private, fenced yard so families can get outdoors. The facility will be able to offer child care, a vocational education center and offices for case managers.

Altmeyer said the shelter helps women and their children get through a crisis that might arise from homelessness, domestic violence, loss of employment or drug issues.

Women and families are referred to services to help them get back to normal lives, he said.

Some may go to the mission’s extended programs at Anna Ogden Hall.

“We want to end homelessness,” Altmeyer said.