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Shelter from the cold

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Bob Rogers, director of Lighthouse Christian Ministries, looks over the front area of the 7,700-square-foot building at 810 S. Wenatchee Ave. which he plans to turn into a interim homeless shelter. His ministry leased the building for three years starting Thursday, two years to the day after the Lighthouse’s soup kitchen began operation 2 1/2 blocks north of this building at 810 S. Wenatchee Ave.

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WENATCHEE — A proposed new shelter would help victims of homelessness get out of the cold this winter.

Lighthouse Christian Ministries has leased a vacant building and had preliminary talks with city officials about opening an interim shelter at 810 S. Wenatchee Ave., the former location of Dimitri’s Antiques and Seconds. Bob Rogers, director of Lighthouse Christian Ministries, said he hopes to have the building remodeled and permits approved to start taking in homeless within two months. The ministry also operates The Lighthouse, a gathering place that offers free breakfast, lunch, dinner, Bible study and Sunday services at 526 S. Wenatchee Ave.

If you and your family lost your house and were out on the street right now,

Donations can be made to help build the Gospel House by mail to Lighthouse Christian Ministries, 526 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA, 98801, or in person at The Lighthouse, 526 Mission St.

For more information, stop in or call Bob Rogers at (509) 679-1558.

there would be no place to go,” Rogers said. “Most shelters are full and there are none that offer immediate help for families.” Rogers said he’s been aware of a growing problem of homelessness since starting his nondenominational Christian mission January 2010. He’s volunteered as a chaplain at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center for many years and with his wife owns First Fruits Produce Market north of East Wenatchee.

Families are coming in who are living in their cars. Often it’s women with children,” he said.

The Gospel House would offer spare sleeping quarters for short-term needs while residents find more permanent shelter, he said. There would be a limit of 90 days stay, but Rogers hopes he would be able to help residents find better dwellings much sooner than that.

This will just be an interim shelter. We’ll be doing it for as low a cost as possible,” he said. The 7,700-square-foot building has a partial second story where women and children will stay, separate from men’s quarters on the first floor, according to state regulations. Beds would be open bunks, similar to mission shelters in Seattle and other cities. He estimates the shelter could house up to 85 people if needed. The shelter would close from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to ease any problems with neighboring businesses, he said. A security guard would be hired for evenings. Background checks would be run on people who want to stay there, Rogers said.

Rogers hopes to get the shelter operating this winter when the need is greatest, but the timeline will depend on permit approval and funding.

There are a lot of hoops to jump through with the city. They want it done right and that’s okay. We want it done right,” he said. The opening date, he said, will also depend on how much help he can get. He’s set a budget for the project at $50,000, mostly to pay for installation of overhead sprinklers and construction of two large bathrooms with showers. He said an anonymous donor has pledged $20,000, but wants to see community matching funds for the project. He’s also looking for volunteers and donations of services and materials.

The economy isn’t getting any better and it’s getting a whole lot colder out there,” Rogers said.

Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151

Reach Rick Steigmeyer at 509-664-7151 or . Read his blog Winemaker's Journal or follow him on Twitter at @steigmeyerww.