The founders of a youth shelter are seeking donations of cash and muscle so they can finish construction and meet a September deadline with the city of Medford.

The founders of a youth shelter are seeking donations of cash and muscle so they can finish construction and meet a September deadline with the city of Medford.

Costly construction issues are plaguing efforts by Hearts with a Mission to meet its commitment to open the shelter within one year of receiving just over $200,000 in a federal block grant. The funds were awarded by the city on Sept. 12, 2008.

The shelter will provide temporary emergency shelter to homeless youths, ages 10 to 17, for up to 72 hours without parental consent and up to 120 days with consent, said Kevin Lamson, Hearts with a Mission executive director.

"We put roofs over our dogs and cats," said Lamson. "Why aren't we doing that for our kids?"

Lamson noted there is currently no shelter in Jackson County that will house homeless children unless they are accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian.

But the organization's vision for the house at 521 Edwards St. has hit a serious snag. Internal demolition, which began the first week of December and was completed within a month, revealed the house would need extensive work to its foundation — something the fledgling group hadn't planned on.

"There was very serious structural damage," said Lamson.

The delays have cost valuable time and the repairs will cost $40,000, "just to get it to the point where we can utilize our in-kind donations," he said.

"We finally got permits about two or three weeks ago," said Lamson. "Now we need money and general labor. If anybody has any construction knowledge, we could use their help."

More than $200,000 in in-kind donations has been committed to cover most of the other renovations. However, the group needs money for the foundation work, and additional skilled construction laborers are needed on a volunteer basis to work and guide other volunteers, Lamson said.

Lamson said the city has been supportive of the project, and he is grateful for the block grant money that was used to purchase the house. But Lamson voiced concerns over what might happen if the delays result in a failure to open when promised.

"The deadline creates some urgency," said Lamson. "The city has a deed restriction on the property. Could they force a sale? I don't know. We can theorize but it's kind of a gray area. I would hope that as long as we're working towards completion, that will help keep us going."

Medford City Councilman Bob Strosser said Tuesday he had no idea that the project was struggling. Lamson had appeared before the council on April 9 and had not mentioned the dilemma, he said.

"I'm blown away," Strosser said. "To my knowledge there has been no discussion before the council."

Strosser said he was glad to know the home's structural issues had been discovered and would be repaired. But he urged Lamson to discuss the shelter's status candidly with the council as soon as possible.

"At the last presentation, we were told it was all going well," he said. "We need to continue working together. If there is an issue, I would strongly suggest he broach that with the city."

It will take an additional $200,000 a year in operating revenue to run the shelter once the renovations are complete, Lamson said. Hearts with a Mission supporters hope to meet those costs through donations, fundraising, corporate sponsorships and grants.

R.A. Murphy Construction workers have donated help to try to resolve the shelter's structural issues. But Lamson said fundraising has been "slow."

"We haven't had that one angel who's stepped up with an open checkbook," he said. "We need people who will offer their time and their treasure. Creating this shelter is up to us as a community. It is not up to the city or the government."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.