Missoula Mayoral Candidate Knopp Talks Houselessness, Housing
The Mayor’s race once again features Missoula businessman and candidate Shawn Knopp on the newly expanded Talk Back show on Monday.
One of the most talked about issues in the mayoral race is that of homelessness (or houselessness), especially since interim Mayor Jordan Hess’ press conference last week announcing a plan to finance the reopening of the Johnson Street Emergency Shelter.
Mayoral Candidate Shawn Knopp was on Monday's Talk Back Show
“With the Boise lawsuit from the Ninth District Court, we can't make houselessness illegal and that makes it very hard to enforce. So, you know, my plan would be to find one place to make it legal to camp,” began Knopp. We get them all in one area and then it'll be easier to police and then the ones that don't follow the rules, we have avenues to take legally.”
Knopp said there are complications with law enforcement and the legal system when it comes to houseless individuals.
Knopp said the Laws on Homelessness aren't Working
“We have numerous laws and ordinances on the books that we can't impose penalties because, number one, you fine them and they don't have any money, so what's the point?” he said. “You're just wasting the paper it's written on. Number two, where are we going to put them? You know, you arrest them all, but there's no room in the jails. So it creates many different problems until we have a place designated for them to go so that we can enforce those laws on the streets.”
Knopp also addressed the controversial narrowing of Higgins and changes to other downtown streets by the current city government.
“They want to take parking away and they want to cut down lanes on Higgins Street,” he said. “I don't think that's a solution for more traffic either because we're getting more people, not less. Like I said it's a catch-22. If we don't have enough houses, the prices keep going up because the people that are coming in here pay an exorbitant amount for houses, which makes it unaffordable for the rest of us to live here.”
Knopp also Addressed the National Housing Problem
Knopp said he is also deeply concerned about the lack of housing inventory in Missoula and across the nation.
“The housing market has been under-providing for many years and it's catching up with us now,” he said. “I went to a meeting the other day that said that in the United States, there's a seven and a half million shortage of houses nationwide. We're not going to build all them tomorrow, so this is going to get worse before it gets better. They were saying that it was going to take upwards of 10 years to catch up, but then there are more people so that we’ll never really catch up.”
Knopp ran unsuccessfully against the late John Engen and Jordan Hess was chosen by the Missoula City Council as the interim mayor.