Temperatures are as cold as they usually are in Montana over the fall and winter, but there’s a big change in Missoula this year, according to Missoula Union Gospel Mission Director Don Evans, the warming shelter that was run by the Mission in conjunction with the Salvation Army isn’t currently running, leaving many homeless out in the cold.

“There is still a need for people that are unable to get into permanent housing, transitional housing and even shelter availability,” Evans said. “We have more people than we can get into those three particular sites. I think a warming shelter is something that is always needed in every city each winter.”

A Missoula ordinance led to the closure of the warming shelter at two prior locations, and though Evans made efforts to try to get a shelter prepared back in May, the City waited almost until October to try to move on the issue.

“By the time it rolls around to the end of September and I was contacting them again saying where are we at on this, that is when we found out that Salvation Army would have to apply for this conditional use permit,” Evans said. “That would cost $1,000 and I would have to provide an overall business plan of where is the money coming from, how are you going to man it, what are you going to do there, so that they could be approved with that provisional permit. Then there would also be 30 days of public comment. We might even get denied in regards to doing all that work and fundraising.”

Now, the Missoula City Council is planning a meeting to discuss an emergency ordinance new warming shelter, but that meeting won’t happen until Friday the 23rd.

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