Oliver Gospel Mission asks for free land to build women's shelter

By Dawndy Mercer Plank - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Women with children are the fastest growing homeless population in the Columbia area.

In fact, local women's shelters have to turn away a dozen or so women and kids a day because there's no room. The Oliver Gospel Mission is wanting to help them, but they need one thing to get a new shelter up and going: land.

To have a new shelter for women and kids, the group will need to raise about $1.2 million for the first three years of operating costs. To start the project, they're making a radical request for free real estate.

"We don't see it negatively," said Wayne Fields of the request. "We just see it as a great opportunity. And you have a lot of viewers who are watching this show and we're confident somebody out there has a generous heart and it can also be a tax write-off."

But is now the time for a freebie with a poor job market, high unemployment, low consumer confidence, and a somber outlook for builders?

"Our desk is full of projects that are already designed, they're already permitted, that are ready to build and owners are sitting on them," said Mark Hood of Hood Construction. "They got canceled 18 months, 24 months ago and they're waiting for the economy to come back and right now none of us knows when those projects are going to come back, if they'll ever come back again."

Hood, also a board member of the mission, thinks those negative factors could mean a positive for the women's shelter. Land just sitting there, if donated, could be the place numerous women and children call home.

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