Community Meetings Planned Over Union Gospel Mission Move [AUDIO]
Union Gospel Mission, formerly Missoula 3:16, has applied for permits from the city to move from their current location on Toole Avenue to a larger facility on West Broadway.
Executive Director Candace Day said on Wednesday, August 28, that the current facility is vastly overcrowded and offers clients of the mission too many opportunities to get into trouble.
"Right now, we're operating in a facility that has too many convenient areas to be irresponsible when they're not supposed to be," Day said. "We desperately need more room to be able to offer our services. Over the past several years, we've had a tremendous opportunity to feed people, but we had to look at ourselves and say, 'Are we making a change by just feeding people?' We want to offer more. We want to offer classrooms. We want to have computer learning areas. We want to offer life skills courses."
Day described the location change the shelter wants to make.
"Our mission is located on Toole Avenue in the middle of a triplex, and we're backed up to the railroad tracks," Day said. "We want to move to the old Sweetheart-Hostess building on West Broadway, next to Aspen Sound. We are putting in security cameras and lighting that will not be a nuisance to the neighborhood."
Day said the first of three public meetings to allow public comment from the mission's future neighbors will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 29, at the Broadway Inn conference room. There will be a second meeting in the same location on Friday, September 6.
"There will also be a public hearing in the Missoula City Council chambers at 140 West Pine on Monday, September 9," Day said. "We already have permits in place that were granted back in May. However, one of the things we want to address is the fact that the city has proposed to backdate a land-use ordinance regarding soup kitchens and homeless shelters."
The Poverello Center homeless shelter will be breaking ground on West Broadway not far from the Union Gospel Mission's proposed location. Neighborhood residents and businesses have expressed concern over the two entities being so close together, that they may attract crime and disrupt property values.
Union Gospel Mission Executive Director Candace Day: