Purpose Summary and Frequently Asked Questions


Union Gospel Mission is a faith-based, 501(c)3, non-profit organization serving the poor and homeless in Spokane, Washington and North Idaho. UGM operates four shelters, three long-term recovery programs, four thrift stores, an automotive enterprise, a camp and after-school program for at-risk youth, and clean-and-sober housing for graduates of our recovery programs. 

This document focuses on the services available through our emergency shelters: The Crisis Shelter for Women & Children and the Men’s Shelter. The Men’s Shelter also has a long-term recovery program onsite. Both emergency shelters provide case management and programming to help individuals connect with additional resources and find employment and/or permanent housing. While we strive to have consistent policies across the ministry, the presence of children at our women’s facilities does require minor adjustments.

No Government Funding

Union Gospel Mission does not accept government funding. The ministry is made possible by financial and in-kind donations from the community. Recipients are not charged for food, shelter or services. Operating without government funding also allows us to express our faith freely and function in accordance with our convictions. We are not here by government mandate but rather because our faith compels us to be here.


UGM was founded, and continues to operate, as a Christian ministry. God’s love for the poor and people experiencing homelessness drives us to provide the services we do. Our operating decisions are heavily influenced by our faith, prayer and scripture. We recognize that this atmosphere may not be the right fit for everyone who is seeking shelter.

High-Barrier Shelters

UGM recognizes the need for low-barrier shelters to keep people alive and appreciates that other organizations are engaged in filling that need. UGM’s role within the larger service community is to provide healthy, clean-and-sober living communities for people seeking long-term life change. We provide this through case management, addiction recovery and referrals to other services throughout the community.

Safe-and-Healing Community

Providing a safe-and-healing environment for those in recovery and seeking life change is of paramount importance to UGM. Many of the people who come through our doors are suffering from various forms of trauma, sexual abuse or addiction. Ensuring they feel safe is job one. 

Any individual who threatens the safety of the community through their behavioral choices including, but not limited to, violence, intimidation, sexual harassment (including flirtation), theft, alcohol or drug use, will be asked to leave UGM shelters. A return to UGM shelters would require an accountability meeting.


Q. What is UGM’s policy regarding people under the influence?

A. Men are given a breath analysis at check-in. Those who “blow hot” will be referred to detox or other shelters. They can return to UGM when they are sober.

Men who have stayed with UGM previously will be given a urine analysis. (No one is charged for a UA.) Those who test positive will be referred to other shelters and are eligible to return when they are clean and sober.

12 emergency weather beds are available at the Men’s Shelter. Men can come in to sleep at 9 p.m. and will be asked to leave before 6 a.m. Individuals accessing the emergency weather beds will not be tested via either BAs or UAs.

Women coming to the Crisis Shelter who appear to be under the influence may be drug tested. Those who test positive will be referred to detox or another shelter. Staff will provide a bus pass to help them get there. They are eligible to return when they are clean and sober.

The Crisis Shelter does not have emergency weather beds. The Crisis Shelter will accept women with children fleeing domestic violence at all hours of the day or night.

Q. Does UGM serve families?

A. Yes and no. Clearly, families come in a variety of configurations. UGM has a men’s emergency shelter (where children cannot be accommodated) and an emergency shelter for women and children. UGM does not have co-ed shelters. We cannot serve husbands and wives at the same shelter. We serve singles and women with children.

Q. Are guests required to have ID upon check-in?

A. No, guests may check in without ID. Case managers will help them go through the process of acquiring ID while they are staying at UGM.

Q. Are guests allowed access to their rooms during the day?

A. They have access, but sleeping and hanging out in their rooms are not allowed. The goal is for people to actively engage in improving their situations – finding a job, securing housing, meeting with case managers and other providers.

Guests ALWAYS have access to their belongings.

Graveyard workers and those who are sick are allowed to stay in their rooms to sleep.

Q. Does UGM limit personal belongings?

A. Yes, due to lack of storage space, UGM must limit the total amount of belongings an individual can bring with them. At the Men’s Shelter, belongings must fit in a 2x2x3 storage cubby. At the Crisis Shelter, belongings must fit in a 30-gallon tote.

Q. Does UGM staff go through a guest’s personal belonging?

A. Yes, but only with the guest present. UGM staff must search belongings for weapons, drugs and alcohol. Most bags and suitcases must also be heat-treated to prevent the spread of bed bugs.

Q. Are animals allowed?
A. Service/therapy animals are allowed. Pets are not. Appropriate documentation required. Guests must always maintain control of animals and clean up after them.

Q. Does UGM serve people with felony convictions?

A. Yes, UGM works closely with the Department of Corrections and believes it is imperative that men and women under community supervision have a safe place to land while they attempt to put their lives back on track.

UGM also serves sex offenders, recognizing that isolation and life on the street are worst-case scenarios for these individuals.

Q. What is UGM’s policy regarding chores?

A. All guests are assigned a two-hour chore. The chore will be adjusted according to the ability of the individual. UGM believes everyone has something to offer the community, and that dignity can be restored through giving back and recognizing one’s value.

Q. Does UGM discriminate against people with disabilities?

A. No. As UGM is not a health care facility, all individuals must be able to perform self-care.

Q. What are UGM’s shower accommodations? Are people required to take group showers?

A. UGM shelters have private showers with locker-room style dressing rooms. If an individual requires it, private dressing space can be provided.

Q. What is UGM’s policy regarding chapel?

A. Unless men are working or have an outside appointment, they are asked to go to chapel. Anyone who seriously objects is welcome to have conversation with staff. Alternative accommodations may be made.

Women at the Crisis Shelter may attend chapel service, small group, parenting classes or a number of other options.

Q. Who is eligible to eat at UGM?

A. UGM provides three meals a day to all residents. The Men’s Shelter is open to the general public (including women and children) for lunch and dinner. All diners must be sober, fully dressed, and not disruptive. The Crisis Shelter is not open to the public for meals.

Q. Does UGM force people to pray or convert?

A. No, this would go against our very belief system. UGM’s picture of Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; something that absolutely cannot be forced.

We do believe that the spiritual component of healing is as important as any other component, and we want to ensure that those coming through our doors are introduced to the love and power of the gospel.

Q. Does UGM serve the LGBTQ community?

A. Yes. UGM recognizes that each person regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, creed, religious affiliation, and/or sexual orientation is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with compassion, grace, care, dignity, and respect.

No one will be turned away or asked to leave UGM solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

UGM’s Top Priority

UGM seeks to create a safe-and-healing environment for individuals seeking life change. Individuals who threaten or compromise the safety of the community will be referred elsewhere.

UGM is only able to care for those who come through our doors because of the generosity and compassion of this community. If you are interested in linking arms with us, there are so many ways to get involved:

  • Donate goods or shop at UGM Thrift Stores
  • Serve a meal or attend a volunteer orientation
  • Become a monthly giver
  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • Subscribe to the blog and share stories of life change
  • Pray for residents, for staff, for volunteers and for those still on the street

The team at Union Gospel Mission invites you to schedule a tour. We are excited to share how our generous community makes it possible for us to provide real, lasting change for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Call 509.535.8510 to schedule a tour at any of our facilities. 

The information presented on or through the Website, including the FAQ section, is made available solely for general information purposes. Nothing on this site creates an obligation on the part of UGM. UGM is not guaranteeing that it will provide treatment or services to any specific individual or under any particular circumstances.  To effectively provide services in rescue, restoration and recovery, we routinely adjust and adapt our policies and procedures. Accordingly, we reserve the right to modify our policies at any time without advance notice, which could affect the accuracy of the information provided on this website. We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such information by you or any other visitor to the Website, or by anyone who may be informed of any of its contents.