The new building, which sits on 3.6 acres, is significantly larger than its current building. The extra space will allow the ERM to house and feed more people. "Right now we're on kinda a postage stamp piece of property. This is much larger," says ERM President and CEO Tracy Gorman. "We can currently feed about 150 or so during the evening meal. [In the new location] we'll be able to feed 200 -- comfortably."
Around 440 people are homeless in Evansville. With the new space, the ERM estimates it would be able to house around 40-percent of those people every evening. "We just want to help more people have a place to call home every evening," says Gorman.
The organization's move is being met with some criticism. Some community members have questioned the ERM's decision to buy the old VA Clinic. Gorman acknowledges the idea wasn't popular with everyone, but suggests the building's price was too good to pass up. "It was on the market for $3.2 million," says Gorman. "We were able to purchase it for $750 thousand." He adds most of the renovations are being paid for with grants and generous donations.
Gorman says the ERM's current building is grossly inadequate. With the community's needs expanding, he says it makes sense for the organization to expand its services. "We really look at this as an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives," says Gorman.
Malcolm Mcnamara, an ERM resident, says he's excited about the organization's expansion. Mcnamara says he became a christian while he was at the facility 12 years ago. He returned to the facility last year to minister to other homeless residents. "When you become homeless it's just a shock. It's an absolute state of bewilderment," says Mcnamara." "This ministry brought me through this time."
The organization's staff plans to migrate to the new location December 20. ERM residents will follow sometime near the end of January or beginning of February.