More than $1.4 Million Allocated to Help Houseless Women and Children

Posted on December 6, 2023

Salem, OR — “It’s no secret that we have a homelessness crisis on our hands, especially impacting women and children,” said Marion County Commissioner Danielle Bethell. “When we can shift funds to a project like Simonka Place, we are literally changing people’s lives and making generational impacts.”

On Wednesday, December 6, the Marion County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment to the county’s Annual Action Plan to allocate more than $1.4 million to Union Gospel Mission’s (UGM) Simonka Place, a facility that cares for women and children experiencing homelessness. These funds were allocated through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

Opened in 1968, Simonka Place has served as a beacon of hope for women in need in Marion and Polk Counties. It was the first of its kind on the West Coast. Since its establishment, Simonka Place has remained dedicated to the care of women and children.

“We really want to be able to serve the increased number of women and children without shelter, and that would not be possible without these resources.” said Dan Clem, UGM Executive Director. “We’re excited to be able to do more, because more is needed.”

Last month alone, Simonka Place had to turn away 11 women with 25 children due to lack of space and resources, according to Kathy Smith, UGM’s Director of Women’s Ministries.

“Something like that is just heartbreaking for us,” said Smith. “We really want to be able to meet the whole needs of the community.”

The funding from Marion County will accomplish two primary purposes. The first is to remodel the interior space to enable Simonka Place to meet the needs of an increasing population of women with children and address the needs of women experiencing a mental health crisis who need their own space for initial recovery.

Updated rooms will accommodate larger families of up to eight, with each room having its own private bathroom. Additional features will be added to the facility to address some of the physical challenges of older women, including handrails, modifications to better accommodate mobility devices, and ramps in place of stairs.

The second purpose for the funding is to address the overall condition of the Simonka Place building, which is over sixty years old. These updates will include the roof, HVAC, lighting, floor-coverings, siding, and windows. Improvements are needed to maintain the safe and efficient function of the facility and enable it to continue providing services to the community.

“These ladies deserve a place that looks like a home,” said Clem.

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