Missoula Declares State of Emergency, Will Reopen Shelter
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The City of Missoula’s recent declaration of an emergency over homelessness made it possible to levy funds from the taxpayers to help reopen the Johnson Street Emergency Winter Shelter.
KGVO News attended an outdoor press conference at City Hall where Mayor Jordan Hess explained their plans to reopen the shelter.
Emergency Levy will Raise Money to Reopen Johnson Street Shelter
“This morning I signed an emergency declaration declaring a state of emergency around houselessness and unsheltered individuals in our community,” began Mayor Hess. “We're going to be working with the Poverello Center to reopen the Emergency Winter Shelter on a year-round basis. So those are the nuts and bolts of what we're going to do. You know, this is a national problem. It's a regional problem. It's a statewide problem, and it's certainly a problem in Montana, and we're doing what we can to provide options for folks to have safe shelter and a safe place to sleep at night.”
Hess further explained the emergency financing to reopen the shelter.
The City and County are Collaborating on the Effort to Reopen the Shelter
“The emergency declaration is a part of that,” he said. “The county is a partner and we will be doing a remittance from the tax increment financing districts in order to accomplish part of this. It really was a case of pulling together a multitude of funding sources and trying to figure out a path forward.”
Hess said he has been comparing Missoula’s homeless issue with those of other cities, including one as large as Los Angeles.
“The city of Los Angeles, in partnership with the federal government, is investing $2.75 billion in addressing homelessness with a goal of a 25 percent reduction in the number of people who are homeless. There's just shy of 70,000 people homeless in the city of Los Angeles. So if you take that rate, it's almost $40,000 per homeless individual to achieve a 25 percent reduction. Looking at our numbers in Missoula, if we were to apply that rate of investment, we're looking at a $26 million problem. I just say that to illustrate the scope and scale of the problem in Missoula but also around the country.”
The Levy would Raise about $500,000, about nine to ten dollars per Household
One reporter asked about the impact of the emergency levy on the average Missoula home.
“It's about $500,000, and on a kind of the median-priced home, it's probably around nine to ten dollars. It’s a one-time package, so this gets us through the year,” he said. “I have frequently said that in this line of work, we iterate and we get better. It was four or five years ago when a group of us were in a conference room trying to figure out how to get an emergency winter shelter stood up for the weekend, and we got the Mountain Line Transfer Center to stay open for a couple of weekends, in order to prevent people from dying of exposure. The next year we got better the next year we got better. This year, we're still getting better, but we're not where we need to be.”
Hess said the Poverello Center voted on Friday morning to authorize the organization to move forward in collaboration with the city.
Hess said the city’s housing policy is officially called ‘A Place to Call Home’.