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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Wheeler Mission broke ground Wednesday on its $13 million expansion project aimed at helping homeless women and children.

The organization is building a 44,200 sq. ft. center that will provide significant relief and hope to homeless women and children.

It will be built on the northwest corner of East Michigan Street and North LaSalle Street next to Wheeler Mission’s existing building. The organization has raised more than $8 million for the project since last year.

Allison Melangton, who is Wheeler Mission’s capital campaign chair, said women and children are the fastest-growing homeless population nationally and locally.

“A few years ago when we began seeing our numbers increase to the point we were actually having to turn people away sort of speak who needed a shelter bed we knew something had to be done,” said Wheeler Mission president and CEO Rick Alvis.

Many families come to Wheeler Mission for various reasons.

“80{a19b272382e43567b93d81f78cecbca1de1bd20e733811fd76565cd2f1d1cf89} of homeless women were victims of domestic abuse at one point and 100{a19b272382e43567b93d81f78cecbca1de1bd20e733811fd76565cd2f1d1cf89} of the children living on the streets with their homeless mother were at risk of being taken by children protective services,” Melangton said.

The expansion includes 164 new permanent beds, 30 transitional apartments for mothers with children, 84 new family shelter beds and 40 new emergency shelter beds.

Additionally, 15 full-time and three part-time staff members will increase the staff-to-guest ratio and provide security and program support.

A 50{a19b272382e43567b93d81f78cecbca1de1bd20e733811fd76565cd2f1d1cf89} increase in programming, including counseling, job training, addiction recovery, social enterprise, and other services will also be available to the women and children at Wheeler Mission.

Other additions include a day room that offers women and children relief from the streets, a new and secure childcare area, an indoor play space for children, and expanded on-site medical and mental health clinics.

Newly designed and expanded dining areas will promote a more family-friendly environment.

Colleen Gore, executive vice president of women’s programming, said the facility will also include appointment visiting rooms for individuals and families meeting with community service providers and an expanded education center.

Wheeler Mission said the goal of the expansion is to provide families the best care and resources in hopes they can move on to permanent independent living.

Construction is expected to be finished in the summer of 2021.

(Photo by WISH-TV.)