- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A Sioux Falls charity that helps the hungry and the poor is building a $1.6 million addition to increase worship and dining space.

The Union Gospel Mission project is part of an effort by community leaders to add resources for Sioux Falls’ poorest residents with homelessness on the rise in South Dakota.

“We decided we can’t wait any longer because the numbers keep going up,” Mission Executive Director Fran Stenberg said.

Stenberg tells the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2bTc8xw) that footings for the current addition were put in about 20 years ago when the mission first acquired the property because organizers anticipated growth. A growing number of Sioux Falls residents who rely on the mission prompted organizers to try to bring the project to fruition.

The mission has raised about $400,000 and is still seeking donations.

Plans for expanding Union Gospel Mission do not include extra beds. But Minnehaha County homeless advisory board coordinator Stacey Tieszen says the project will benefit the community.

The mission’s new facility will add 10,000 square feet. In addition to a new chapel, the project includes a new check-in area and a so-called “day room” for men.

Construction of a new chapel will free up space in the old structure to dedicate to dining.

Meals served last year topped 97,000, a jump from five years ago when the mission’s annual meals total was closer to 75,000.

Community leaders have continued to add resources for Sioux Falls’ poorest residents with homelessness on the rise in South Dakota.

Nonprofits are working together to track services. Organizers launched a pilot in June in an effort to improve how they serve families in need. Creators also hope the Sioux Empire Network of Care will paint a better picture of poverty and need in the community.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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