Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - What has become a very popular and informative regular program on KGVO’s Talk Back Show is ECON 101, featuring Grant Kier, CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership with his guests Bryce Ward, founder of ABMJ Consulting and Jill Bonny, Executive Director of Missoula’s Poverello Center; and the topic was homelessness in Missoula.

Ward began with the basic numbers on homelessness.

Bryce Ward Shared the Homeless Numbers in Missoula

“We have two measures that we use here in Missoula,” began Ward. “One is called the Point in Time Count. It's a night in January where you count everybody in the shelters and you send out volunteers all over the community to try and find homeless populations wherever they may be encountered and add them up. The point in time in recent years has been roughly 350 people. The other measure is essentially a measure of anybody who's touched any kind of service provider, and they feed into a system, and you measure that usually over the course of a month. And over the course of a month, that's usually around 600 people.”

From his research, Ward provided some eye-opening facts about Missoula’s homeless population.

Ward said the Vast Majority of Missoula's Homeless are from Missoula

“The vast majority of homelessness in Missoula are people who were residents last housed in Missoula,” he said. “So the cost to those people counts as the cost to the community and homelessness is very hard, very stressful. A study came out recently at the University of Chicago where the mortality rate amongst homeless populations is 3.6 times as high as the ‘housed’ population. So to put that in terms that people may understand, a 40-year-old homeless person has the same mortality risk as a 60-year-old ‘housed’ person.”

Poverello Center Director Jill Bonny on Being 'Trespassed' from the Shelter

Jill Bonny was asked about those individuals who have been ‘trespassed’ or banned from the Poverello Center due to their behavior.

“Trespassed really comes only in pretty serious situations,” said Bonny. “There's not a long list of people who are trespassed. Many times someone will be asked to take a break from the shelter. So it might mean they can't come back for several weeks, and then they can appeal that decision and come back and say, ‘Hey, look, this is what I'm doing differently. This is who I'm working with. These are the safety nets that I'm connected with, and I'd like to have another chance in the shelter.’

Click here to listen to the entire one-hour ECON 101 episode on Talk Back.

Inside Look at the New TSOS Shelters

The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space new hard-sided shelter facility officially opened on Thursday, January 5. The TSOS is just off West Broadway near the new Trinity affordable housing complex.

Gallery Credit: Nick Chrestenson

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