FARGO - Ronald McDonald is building a new house here to keep up with the growing number of children and their families coming to the area for medical care.

Ronald McDonald House of the Red River Valley announced Saturday, Feb. 11, at a fundraiser that it's planning a $5 million house near the new Sanford Medical Center on Interstate 94.

So far it's raised $3.8 million with land donated by Sanford.

Executive Director Jill Christopher said the new house is needed because there's just not enough room in the two houses the charity currently owns. "Last year we had 46 families that we were not able to house. We had to put them on a wait list because we were full."

"We've had families that were going to sleep in their cars, they sleep wherever they can," she said. "Hotel rooms are very expensive. Some of our families are here for much more than a week. They're here for months."

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Ronald McDonald House is a network of charities that provide housing for families with children receiving medical care in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

It bought its first house north of the Sanford Hospital on Broadway in 1982. A new house west of the Essentia clinic on University Drive South was added in 2005.

Together, they provide 12 rooms and shared bathrooms.

The new house at 4757 Agassiz Crossing S. would have 24 rooms with private bathrooms, according to Christopher. An elevator will ensure all rooms are accessible to disabled people. Like the other houses, it'll have a playroom and fully stocked kitchen.

The plan is to break ground in June and open in May 2018. The current houses will be sold.

The charity started planning for a new house in 2012, Christopher said. Even then the need for more space was evident and that need is expected to grow as Essentia expands and Sanford's new hospital opens, she said.

Working with the two hospitals and the national Ronald McDonald House organization, she said, the local chapter was able to determine how big a house it needed.

Fundraising began in November 2015 and continues with Sanford offering a matching gift of $1 million, according to the charity.