LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An $11.5 million homeless shelter is being built with mostly taxpayer money because of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
Taxpayers are fronting $10 million to construct three buildings for Wayside Christian Mission because a ramp will take out a third of the shelters current location.
"We believe we reached an equitable arrangement with Wayside. It's part of the cost of the Ohio River Bridges project," Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe said.
The new construction includes more than 40,000 square feet.
"It's going to be great space to help folks get back on their feet, become productive citizens again and get back out in the community," Wayside Christian Mission's Chief Operating Officer Nina Moseley said.
Wayside is raising $1.5 million through grants and donations, according to Moseley.
"We wanted to make it as least disturbing to the population and city at large as possible. That's why we chose to build in the back of our property. They're paying about what they would've paid if we chose to move elsewhere. That's just part of their construction costs of the bridge," Moseley said.
A lofty 5-story tower now sprouts above Wayside Christian Mission's Jefferson Street building. The tower, along with a multipurpose building and kitchen, will expand Wayside's campus.
The sprawling building will also include additional rooms for clients enrolled in Wayside's substance abuse and job placement programs.
"Our multipurpose building will resemble a full size gymnasium, but it'll be functional for a variety of activities and events for our programs, like holiday dinners or church events or even additional sleeping space during white flag," Moseley said.
Wayside's sleeping capacity is 640 beds in its current location on Jefferson Street. Even with an $11.5 million project and 40,000 square feet of additional space, Moseley said maximum capacity will not change unless Operation White Flag goes into effect. Wayside is allowed to offer shelter above its capacity during Operation White Flag, a program that goes into effect when winter temperatures or wind chill is 35 degrees or lower.
"Acreage and development code dictates our maximum capacity - not our property's square footage," Moseley said. "Even through we have all this additional space, our maximum capacity will remain virtually the same. However, during white flag events we'll be able to accommodate many more. We haven't determined that number, yet."
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