Outreach Mission Inc., which currently operates men’s and women’s shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Sanford, has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for the construction of a new community shelter.

The shelter, which will be named in honor of local businessman Sam Wornom, will be 7,000 square feet and replace the current men’s and women’s shelters that are 100 plus years old. It will be located at 507 S. 3rd St. and be capable of serving 76 clients. Multipurpose rooms will be available for collaborations with additional community support agencies.

The total cost of the shelter is expected to be $2.8 million when construction begins in early 2023. OMI also received a total of $630,000 in funding from Sanford and Lee County governments, and has raised an additional $200,000 through a private donor campaign.

“We’ve been working on getting a new shelter building for almost three years,” said OMI President Hamer Carter. “As we’ve grown, we’ve gotten in a much better financial position and have better organizational structure, so our grant funders are starting to look at us different.”

OMI was founded in early 1980s by local pastors as a faith-based mission to help the local homeless community. It was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 1988 and operated as a night time only shelter only until 2017, when OMI became part of Sanford’s S3-Housing Connect task force and transitioned to a low-barrier entry shelter open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Since then, OMI has expanded benefit provision to include medical and mental health referrals, life skill training, job training and job search assistance, budgeting and savings assistance, and housing search assistance. Its staff has grown to meet 24 hour daily operational needs with 11 total employees including a director, case managers, shift supervisors and intake personnel. OMI has served over 1,200 clients since 2018 and returned more than 430 households to stable housing.

The new shelter is expected to open in 2024.

Anyone interested in making a donation should contact Carter at (919) 302-3515 or OMI Vice President Laura Spivey at (919) 356-2447.