After a couple of years of searching and consideration of more than a dozen potential sites, a new Hope Gospel Mission men’s shelter on Eau Claire’s northwest side is moving closer to reality.
Last week the Eau Claire Plan Commission approved a final site plan for the new 46-bed men’s shelter on the west side of North Clairemont Avenue, north of Kohlhepp Road.
All that remains for the project to proceed is acquiring a building permit. Work on the new shelter is scheduled to begin in May, Hope Gospel Mission program director Chris Hedlund said.
The looming construction of the facility is especially heartening, Hedlund said, after past struggles finding a location for a new men’s shelter. After consideration of several sites, proposals to build a new shelter on Eau Claire’s west side and in Altoona were denied after neighbors raised objections to living near such a facility.
“It does feel really good to get to this point,” Hedlund said. “It has taken a lot of work to get here.”
The new shelter could open as soon as February, he said of the space that will expand the number of men the Hope program can serve.
Hope Gospel Mission officials sold the organization’s current men’s shelter at 8 S. Farwell St. in January. Since then they have leased space there. That site could be redeveloped at some point, but no plans have been submitted yet, associate city planner Ryan Petrie said.
The men’s shelter is projected to cost about $4.7 million, of which about 60 percent has been raised, Hedlund said.
In addition to the men’s shelter, Hope Gospel Mission officials last year bought properties at 2306 and 2320 Frank St. on the city’s northwest side to acquire a former group home they will remodel into a shelter for as many as 11 homeless women and children at a time. They also will relocate the Ruth House shelter for single women, currently at 2511 W. Moholt Drive.
Those projects combined will cost about $1.7 million, Hedlund said. While day-to-day funding is in place for the men’s shelter, that hasn’t been established for the women’s and children’s shelter.
Proceeding with those structures depends on fundraising, he said.
“Our goal is to have it open as fast as we can,” Hedlund said, “but it’s tough to predict when donations come in.”
Whenever that happens, it will allow for the construction of new buildings that will enable Hope Gospel to better serve more people in need, he said.
“The need for these services is growing,” Hedlund said. “I like it that (Hope Gospel Mission) is part of the solution. ... I see the people who go through our program, and it is exciting to see them do well.”
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