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5 min read

Union Gospel Mission: Our Doors Are Open

“Partnering with the Inland Northwest to reach the poor with the love and power of the gospel so they may become God-dependent, contributing members of society.”

 When UGM receives negative-sounding media coverage – which, thankfully, doesn’t happen very often – some people respond on social media with comments like, “Well, I’ll never give to them again.” The assumption seems to be that we were trying to hide who we are, trying to trick people into giving to us. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We want to clearly say to you, to our community: This is who we are. Come and see.

Consider this your invitation to take a deep dive into UGM’s DNA. (One tool we use to communicate who we are is our annual report. Or, visit our facilities in person; call to schedule a tour!)



We are founded on the gospel. It is why we do what we do, and if you took “Gospel” out of our name, we would cease to be who we are.

Our mandate to care for the poor comes straight from Scripture, which we believe to be the inspired Word of God.

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. - Deuteronomy 15:11

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy. - Proverbs 14:31

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” - James 1:27

Our faith-based approach and high view of Scripture influence the entire ministry. We pray before meals and meetings. We have several chaplains on staff. We hold chapel services and require attendance. We hire Christians. They sign a statement of faith and are held to standards of behavior consistent with that faith. Religious hiring by religious organizations is not a violation of civil rights laws but a freedom built into them (Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance).

We believe the spiritual component is critical to life change. Our long-term recovery programs are biblically based. The cure for addiction, and for homelessness, lies in the heart, and God alone – not UGM – changes hearts. We seek to introduce every person who comes through our doors to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ because we believe his love is what they need most; that is where the true power lies. We require chapel attendance for this very reason. Our goal is to feed the body AND the soul.

Gospel literally means good news or news that brings joy because it offers hope. We are all about that!


Another aspect of this commitment to the gospel is UGM's standard of sexual purity. We believe that sex is reserved for the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Sexual activity and advances are not permitted within UGM shelters.

Men and women coming through our doors have often suffered abuse at the hands of the opposite sex. More than 40 percent of the women in our shelters have experienced domestic violence. Residents who enter our recovery programs are asked to abstain from romantic relationships (other than existing marriages) to give their minds, hearts and bodies time to heal. 

Please note: UGM welcomes individuals without discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender or sexual orientation. We have served and will continue to serve the LGBTQ community and absolutely believe the love of Christ should be extended to all. Our ability to provide shelter for trans-individuals must be handled on a case-by-case in order to ensure the privacy and safety of all individuals. Our shelter accommodations are limited by community showers and multiple individuals sleeping and dressing in a single room. Providing a safe and healing environment for all is our top priority.


UGM believes every human being is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and that every person is called to live a meaningful life in relationship with him.


Another of UGM’s distinctives is that we are change-focused. We believe a better life is possible for people currently living on the streets and want to do everything we can to encourage them toward that end – to offer real change, real hope.

Addiction both serves as a contributing factor to homelessness and keeps people stuck in a self-destructive cycle. With changed lives as the goal, UGM operates clean-and-sober facilities so that our shelters might be safe for those in recovery.

Our long-term recovery programs for those struggling with addiction include one-on-one and group therapy. We know that childhood trauma and family dysfunction often precipitate addiction. Our goal is to treat root causes and bring healing to the whole person.

UGM served 4,200 men, women and children experiencing homelessness in 2018, providing 117,576 nights of shelter, 331,029 meals and 3,622 medical visits.

42 men, 136 women and 84 children were welcomed into UGM Recovery programs.

When people under the influence come to us seeking shelter, we generally refer them to other shelters or to a detox facility and invite them to come back when they are ready to pursue long-term change.


Change, however, isn’t just for residents. We recognize growth and change as a vital part of every person's journey.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” - Romans 12:1-2

With Christ-likeness as our standard, we are committed to daily growth and change – humbly confessing our own shortcomings, pride and selfishness to God and to each other, and inviting fellow staff members  and residents to speak truth into our lives.

We know that we cannot ask residents to do work that we are unwilling to do ourselves.


UGM believes in the value of work. We ask residents to perform chores and contribute to the community in which they reside. By giving back, residents gain a sense of pride and dignity. People who stay longer are asked to contribute more, and job training plays a significant part of our long-term programs. As our purpose statement says, the end goal is “that they might become God-dependent, contributing members of society.”

17,639 hours of job training were provided at UGM Motors, UGM Thrift Stores and UGM shelters in 2018.

207 men and women found employment through UGM in 2018.


UGM does not receive government funding. We operate on funds provided by the community - individuals, businesses, churches and private foundations.

  • 18,111 donors gave 52,107 donations to UGM in 2018.
  • 88% of all donations went into program services in 2018; 7% toward fundraising; 5% toward administration.
  • 91% of UGM’s revenue came from financial donations and donated goods; 6% came from UGM Motors and UGM Thrift Stores; 3% came from other sources.


UGM is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity and, as such, is tax-exempt. 

In the News

The recent issue before the Spokane City Council is about a wastewater drain field the City wants to install in UGMs Harry Altmeyer Park between the Mens Shelter and the Spokane River. In exchange for an easement to build and maintain this wastewater system, the City would give UGM some city-owned parcels adjacent to UGM property. 

The city also plans to build a bike trail along the river through the park which would require that UGM move its maintenance facility at its own expense. 

Our hearts desire, said Executive Director Phil Altmeyer, is to be a good neighbor. Just as UGM has been partnering with the City for 68 years by caring for some of its most vulnerable citizens, UGM wants to be accommodating with regard to the wastewater issue and making the beauty of the river accessible to more people.

The land agreements are a win-win for the City and for UGM, with the financial benefits penciling out to be almost equal on both sides. The City gets to put a large wastewater tank in a convenient location (at a cost of $1 million less than other available locations) and UGM has the freedom to expand to better meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Learn more about the issues surrounding homelessness in Phil's e-book recounting lessons he's learned in 30+ years at UGM.

Download our free e-book, Lessons from a Homeless Shelter.

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