City of Missoula Says Plan Titled ‘End Homelessness’ Was Misleading
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula City Council received a thorough report on 'Reaching Home; the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Missoula’ at their Housing, Redevelopment and Community Programs Committee meeting on Wednesday.
KGVO News gathered several comments from the report, first from Emily Armstrong, Houseless Initiatives Program Manager for the City of Missoula.
The Title '10 Year Plan to End Homelessness' was Misleading
The first impression from the report was that the name of the program itself was misleading.
“In 2012, the city of Missoula and Missoula County partnered with United Way of Missoula County to announce reaching home Missoula, the 10-year plan to end homelessness,” began Armstrong. “10-year plans to end homelessness were a model of the federal government at the time that was taken up by communities across the country. As you'll see highlighted in the evaluation, the wording of that title, ‘ending homelessness’ is misleading. The goals in this plan were designed to decrease instances of houselessness and to ensure that when it happens, those instances are brief; they're rare and they only happen once.”
Armstrong provided a timeline of the project.
Several Projects have been Undertaken to Provide Shelter for the Houseless
“In December of 2020, the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space first opened at its original site in 2020 to 2021 in that winter time period,” she said. Then, we first opened the expanded Emergency Winter Shelter program at the Johnson Street Community Center in spring of 2021. Operation Shelter launched as a joint city county initiative led by the county's incident command team in January 2023. The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space just recently moved to its new expanded location and opened their Pallet shelters. Then, just last month in February, the Trinity project began leasing rental housing that's affordable which is a huge step for our community.”
Regarding funding, Armstrong said there has been a mix of mostly federal and some local dollars.
Most of the Funding Came from Federal Programs Like ARPA
“While considerable funding through the CARES ACT and ARPA has come through to support things like Operation Safe Shelter in recent years, there's a lot of concern around the sustainability of those but obviously those are finite, wondering how to support programs going forward. And it was also mentioned, the Crisis Service Levy did not pass as well.”
There was mixed news of success and challenge regarding providing assistance to houseless persons, however, there were also increasing interactions with law enforcement.
“They have noticed how Reaching Home has allowed them to build collaborations or partnerships with direct service providers such as the homeless outreach team, trying to divert folks from going to jail and the emergency room and actually connecting them with services that may help them,” she said. But we also consistently heard just in recent years that the number of individuals who are unhoused who are having interactions with law enforcement is significantly going up.”
Click here to see the entire presentation before the Missoula City Council.