Agape House Executive Director Dave Hughes told the Hermiston City Council on Monday that groundbreaking for Martha’s House, the first homeless shelter in Umatilla County, is scheduled June 30 at 3 p.m.

Hughes said the Agape House Board of Directors voted last week to proceed with the project. Hughes said they hope to have phase 1 of the construction completed by late November or early December. Martha’s House would then be ready to begin offering its services.

“The project has been a very quick move for this size of a non-profit,” Hughes said.

Currently, phase 1 is about 75 to 80 percent funded, Hughes said.

“We’ve had a lot of people step up in a big way,” Hughes said. “When the Hermiston City Council, Hermiston Electric Services and the Umatilla County Commissioners stepped forward with their help, we accepted the challenge.”

The City Council has donated $150,000 to the project (with $75,000 of that designated as HES money). The county commissioners donated the land, located at the corner of Southeast Fourth Street and East Newport Avenue.

A number of other groups and individuals have made sizable donations. The Homebuilders Association of Northeast Oregon has pledged to donate as much labor as possible, along with providing help in the design phase. Cash donations came from the Oregon Community Foundation ($30,000), Banner Bank ($10,000), Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation ($5,000) and the Autzen Foundation ($5,000).

Hughes said many other local businesses and individuals have chipped in for another $25,000 in the capital campaign.

Hughes said there are now three more hurdles in front of the project:

• The funding for phase 1 is still about $140,000 to $180,000 short. “It will happen somehow,” Hughes said. “I’m confident of that.”

• Phase 2 of construction, which Agape officials hope to begin immediately after the first phase is completed, still needs about $300,000 for completion.

• Agape is still searching for about $75,000 per year for an annual operating fund.

Hughes had hoped to convince Umatilla County United Way to help with the operating fund, but he said the group’s request for assistance was rejected by United Way officials.

Phase 1 of the project will include completion of the entire exterior, including making it water-tight. The ground floor will be completed and made ready for occupancy, with five to six units for families, an apartment for the manager, classrooms and office space.

Hughes hopes to have the facility open by early next winter.

The second phase will include 13 studio units for families.

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