By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
The Salvation Army of Tupelo plans to double the capacity of its homeless lodge using some of the money it will receive from the sale of its recreational facility to the city. The Daily Journal’s Emily Le Coz spoke with Maj. Sue Dorman of Tupelo’s Salvation Army on Friday about those expansion plans.
Q: How many people does the lodge currently hold, and why does The Salvation Army want to expand it?
A: We can sleep 19 people, 23 if we include cots. But we’re averaging 125-135 percent capacity. We also have a lot of mothers coming with young children, and we don’t have an adequate space for them. Right now, we have a women’s dorm that sleeps six and a men’s dorm that sleeps 13. We can put extra mattresses on the floor for children, but it becomes a problem if a mother brings in an adolescent boy, for example. We can’t have an 11- or 12-year-old sleeping in the women’s dorm, but we don’t want to put them in the men’s dorm with the adults. So we need more beds for the men and the women, and we need a family dorm.
We are the only shelter like this in Northeast Mississippi, and our needs are growing. There are some nights we have been at 200 percent capacity.
Q: How much will the expansion cost and when is it expected to happen?
A: It will cost in the ballpark of $650,000. We already have the space, but it’s being used for storage right now. So we will need to convert that into the dorms and add more bathrooms. Then we need to find more storage somewhere. We’re working with an architect to see what would be the most efficient way to use that space. We don’t know yet when it will happen, hopefully by the end of the year.
Q: The city purchased The Salvation Army’s former recreational facility for $225,000. Will that money go toward the expansion project?
A: Some of it will. But most of it will pay off the mortgage we had on that building. We still need to do a lot of fundraising.