NEW ORLEANS -- The director says all the beds at the New Orleans Mission were filled last night, and they still had to turn away 70 homeless people who needed shelter.

They've seen a 15 percent increase over the last year.

'I was participating in drug activities, in and our of incarceration, things of that nature,' said New Orleans Mission Client Dontrale Phillips. 'The Discipleship Program has basically taught me how to incorporate the word of God into my everyday thinking.'

But every day Mission operators struggle to keep things going in a century-old building that used to be a furniture store and warehouse.

'The condition of this building is terrible,' said New Orleans Mission Executive Director Ron Gonzales. 'The plumbing is shot, the electric is shot. The cost to fix this building is beyond the value of the building itself.'

So the New Orleans Mission is starting a major fundraising campaign to replace this worn-out building with a new one.

'This new building will enable us to house up to 300 men and women, which is a great increase over what we normally do, and it will expand our kitchen facilities and dining area,' said Gonzales. It would include offices for other agencies that help the homeless get a new start.

'People dealing with legal issues, you can have an office for people dealing with housing, you can have an office for veterans, you can have an office for the medical,' said Gonzales.

Phase One includes building a coffee shop and a thrift store in the new building, so they can serve the community. Phase Two will take the empty lot next door and build an amphitheater that can also serve as a chapel.

It's a multi-million dollar project, and they're going to need a lot of help to make it happen.

'Everyone we can get, because no matter what the amount is, we need it,' said the Mission's Linda Gonzales.

'It would be great to have a brand new building,' said Phillips. 'We would be able to house more people.'

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